Tuesday, February 15, 2011
New USDA Guidelines
On January 31, 2011, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released their updated guidelines for the American diet. A panel of 13 nutritional experts, chaired by Linda Van Horn (who has a doctorate in addition to being a licensed and registered dietician) reviewed the available evidenced-based data regarding the impact of diet on wellness and disease prevention. Their findings come as no surprise, with an emphasis on MAINTAINING a HEALTHY WEIGHT (through calorie balance- energy OUT equalling or exceeding energy IN) and focusing on consuming NUTRIENT DENSE foods and drinks.
What does this mean? In short:
MORE: vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, seafood, low- or no-fat milk products, eggs, poultry and whole grains.
LESS: Everything else. Seriously! Less solid fats, complex/refined sugars (crackers, cookies, breads, sweets), fatty meats, and drinks with empty calories like sodas, many fruit drinks and alcohol.
So none of this is shocking. Perhaps the one controversy is the level of salt recommended. The USDA okays up to 2300 mg of sodium for the general population, but the American Heart Association (worried appropriately about high blood pressure) suggests that really everyone should max out their salt around 1500mg. The reality is, however, that if people change their diet from highly processed foods to more plant-based and whole foods, their sodium content will fall as well.
WIth more than 1/3 of American children and 2/3 of our adults falling in the overweight or obese category, the USDA is rightly shifting the emphasis of their guidelines towards calorie balanced diets and LIFETIME weight maintenance, through increasing activity as well as increasing vegetable and fruit consumption. Tomorrow I'm going to return to focusing on the MORE philosophy that has successfully helped many of my patients reach their healthy weights.
BOTTOM LINE: (Straight out of the USDA's Press Release)"The bottom line is that most Americans need to trim our waistlines to reduce the risk of developing diet-related chronic disease. Improving our eating habits is not only good for every individual and family, but also for our country." Cheers.