- The U.S. Federal Government’s newly updated dietary guidelines encourage reducing consumption of added sugars, saturated fats, and salt. It also introduces a concrete target for added sugars—less than 10% of daily calorie intake.
- The new guidelines focus on adopting a healthy eating pattern that fits an individual’s lifestyle instead of recommending specific food amounts. These patterns can adapt to personal preferences, suggesting diets such as a healthy American diet, a Mediterranean-style diet, and a vegetarian diet.
- The report urges a shift towards a diet rich in plant-based foods, resembling the Mediterranean diet, consisting of a balance of healthy fats and whole grains. It also stresses the importance of preparing meals and snacks from scratch to avoid processed foods.
- Instead of focusing on individual nutrients, the guidelines concentrate on the overall diet, affirming a healthy eating pattern comprising a variety of vegetables, whole fruits, grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy, and diverse protein sources.
- The guidelines also address alcohol consumption, advising moderation if alcohol is consumed—up to one drink a day for women and two for men.
The U.S. Federal Government has recently updated its dietary guidelines, encouraging Americans to reduce their consumption of added sugars, saturated fats, and salt in order to enhance their overall health.
The updated guide particularly suggests that the public limit added sugars to less than 10 percent of their daily calorie intake. This breaks new ground as the previous guidelines, published in 2010, advised a reduction in added sugars without specifying a solid target. The guidelines are updated every five years to stay relevant with current science.
A Fresh Approach
The recent guide, dubbed the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, also encourages people to limit saturated fats to less than 10 percent of their daily calories, and to consume fewer than 2,300 milligrams of salt per day. This is approximately less than 1 teaspoon of salt.
Healthy Eating Patterns
Importantly, the guidelines promote the adoption of a healthy eating pattern that fits individual’s lifestyle rather than recommending specific amounts of different foods such as vegetables or meats. “These patterns can be adopted to personal preferences, allowing Americans to opt for the diet that is suitable for them,” the report explains.
Examples of Healthy Eating Plans
Three examples of healthy eating plans provided in the guidelines include a healthy American diet, a Mediterranean-style diet, and a vegetarian diet. This focus on a healthy eating plan is designed to be more user-friendly, enabling people to effectively utilize the guidelines for their benefit.
Shift to Plant-based Foods
“American should be leaning towards a diet full of plant-based foods like vegetables and fruits similar to the Mediterranean diet which includes a balance of healthy fats and whole grains,” says the report. In addition to healthy meals, it emphasises the value of preparing meals and snacks from scratch to avoid reliance on processed foods.
A Focus on Overall Diet
Another key feature of the new guidelines is their focus on overall diet rather than individual nutrients. The guidelines identify a healthy eating pattern as involving a diversity of vegetables, whole fruits, grains (at least half of which are whole), fat-free or low-fat dairy, and a variety of protein sources such seafood, lean meats, poultry, eggs, beans, peas, nuts, seeds and soy products.
Conscious Alcohol Consumption
If alcohol is consumed, the guidelines suggest doing so moderately – up to one drink a day for women and up to two for men.”
The Need for Healthier Choices
According to the report, added sugars represent more than 13 percent of calories per day in the typical American diet. Beverages account for 47 percent of all added sugars consumed by Americans, including soft drinks, fruit drinks, sweetened coffee and tea, energy drinks, alcoholic beverages and flavored waters.
Understanding Saturated Fats
About 35 percent of saturated fats originate from prepared foods, with particular emphasis on meals containing cheese or meat. They include burgers, sandwiches, tacos and pizza. They are also found in snacks and sweet, high-protein foods, and dairy products. The guidelines aim to reduce saturated fats to fewer than 10 percent of daily calories.
Diet and Exercise
The Dietary Guidelines also underscore the importance of physical activity, suggesting that individuals meet the federal Physical Activity Guidelines as well. Achieving the recommendations laid out in the 2015-2020 Guidelines will, undoubtedly, contribute to improving the health of the American population.
For more detailed information on the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, please visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.