New Dietary Guidelines: Lean meat recommended and no sustainability issues

The USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services released the much-anticipated “2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” The “guidelines” provide dietary recommendations for individuals 2-years and older to help obtain a healthy and nutrient balanced diet and to help reduce obesity and prevent chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

The “guidelines” recommend that Americans should eat more fruits and vegetables; lean meat is a part of a healthy diet; and limit the amount of added sugars consumed on a daily basis.

The report does not include the advisory committee’s controversial recommendations of adding sustainability as part of the guidelines or reducing lean meat to a footnote. The Dietary Guidelines recommendations provide five overarching guidelines:

  1. Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. Eating patterns are the combination of foods and drinks that a person eats over time.
  2. Focus on variety, nutrient-dense foods and amount
  3. Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats, and reduce sodium intake
  4. Shift to healthier food and beverage choices
  5. Support healthy eating patterns for all

The guidelines make recommendations on what Americans should consume.

  • A variety of vegetables, including dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy and other vegetables
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
  • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), soy products, and nuts and seeds
  • Oils, including those from plants: canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, and sunflower. Oils also are naturally present in nuts, seeds, seafood, olives and avocados.

It is also recommended in the guidelines that one should limit the amount of saturated fats, added sugars and sodium for a healthy diet.

  • Less than 10% of calories per day from added sugars. ChooseMyPlate.gov provides more information about added sugars, which are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared. This does not include naturally occurring sugars such as those consumed as part of milk and fruits.
  • Less than 10% of calories per day from saturated fats. The nutrition facts label can be used to check for saturated fats. Foods that are high in saturated fat include butter, whole milk, meats that are not labeled as lean and tropical oils such as coconut and palm oil.
  • Less than 2,300 milligrams per day of sodium for people over the age of 14 years and less for those younger. The nutrition facts label is a helpful tool to check for sodium, especially in processed foods like pizza, pasta dishes, sauces and soups.

USDA and HHS are required to jointly publish Dietary Guidelines every five years that contain nutritional and dietary information and guidelines for the general public.

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