New nutritional guidelines call for variety

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Photo: Nancy Honeycutt/iStockphoto

Washington – American diets should have a variety of nutrient-rich foods across all food groups while limiting the amount of calories from added sugars, certain fats and sodium, according to updated nutritional guidelines released Jan. 7 by the Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture.

Unlike previous recommendations, which focused on food groups and nutrients, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans aim to encourage eating patterns that promote overall health. A healthy eating pattern takes into account all food and beverages consumed, and should include a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy, and high-protein foods such as seafood, lean means, nuts and soy products.

The new focus is intended to give consumers more options for establishing a healthy diet that will help them manage their weight and prevent conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, according to a USDA press release.

“The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is one of many important tools that help to support a healthier next generation of Americans,” Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said in the release. “The latest edition of the Dietary Guidelines provides individuals with the flexibility to make healthy food choices that are right for them and their families and take advantage of the diversity of products available.”

In addition to encouraging a range of nutritious food, the guidelines specify the following daily limits:

  • Less than 10 percent of calories from added sugars
  • Less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fats
  • Less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium
  • No more than one alcoholic drink for women – two drinks for men – of legal drinking age

“By focusing on small shifts in what we eat and drink, eating healthy becomes more manageable,” Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell said in a press release.

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