On January 7, 2016, the Health and Human Services department (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, with the goal being to help Americans reduce obesity and chronic disease by encouraging them to improve how they eat. The recommendations for the new dietary guidelines rely on evidence-based nutrition recommendations for the general public as well as policy makers and health professionals to use to empower American families, schools, work environments and communities to lead healthier lives.
This is the eighth edition of the Dietary Guidelines, which utilizes the latest scientific advancements about health and nutrition. If followed, they can help people keep their weight under control and prevent chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease.
There are 5 main points in this new edition of the guidelines. As outlined by the HHS, they are:
It is suggested that small, manageable changes be implemented into people’s lives so that healthy eating habits can become a part of each person’s life in a sustainable and practical way. The guidelines focus on variety and healthy eating habits as a whole instead of individual foods and portions.
With the combination of the flexibility to make food choices that fit in with each person’s lifestyle and a diversity of food products being chosen, these guidelines are proving to be the most effective ones to date. They should serve to strongly support population health initiatives and a healthier next generation.
Foods that are recommended for a healthy eating pattern include eating a variety of vegetables (dark green, red, orange, legumes, starchy and other vegetables), fruits (especially whole fruits), grains (at least half of which are whole grains), low-fat and fat-free dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese and/or fortified soy beverages), a variety of proteins (seafood, lean meats, poultry, eggs, legumes, soy products, nuts, seeds), and oils (canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, sunflower, as well as those that are naturally present in foods like nuts, seeds, seafood, olives and avocados). These are nutrient-dense foods that support the body’s optimal function.
Foods that are recommended to be avoided or limited include saturated fats (less than 10% of calories per day), trans fats, added sugars (less than 10% of calories per day) and sodium (less than 2300 mgs per day for people over the age of 14 and less for younger children).
The new guidelines were created by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which comprised of numerous prestigious nutrition, health and medicine researchers. Public and federal agency comments were also taken into consideration.
Additional information can be found at ChooseMyPlate.gov and Health.gov to help support healthy lifestyle choices. The full guidelines can be found at DietaryGuidelines.gov. Americans should follow the Physical Activity Guidelines as well for a well-rounded approach to health and wellness.