What’s New in the Dietary Guidelines

There’s good news, and not-so-good news for some, in the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, released Jan. 7 by the Agriculture and Health and Human Services Departments.

If, like me, you are a fan of high-fat foods like nuts or avocados, high-cholesterol foods like shrimp or eggs, coffee or an occasional alcoholic drink, the new guidelines provide some additional reassurance. They emphasize the need to focus on a health-promoting eating pattern “across the life span” that includes these and other foods, in moderation, while cutting down on added sugar.

On the other hand, the new guidelines can be confusing, containing what seems like conflicting messages and bowing, in some cases, to industry pressures, especially with regard to meats.

The new guidelines emphasize a lifelong eating pattern that contains adequate essential nutrients, a caloric intake that supports a healthy body weight and foods that reduce the risk of chronic disease. This means diets with a rich variety of vegetables and fruits; whole grains; fat-free or low-fat dairy foods like milk, yogurt and cheese, and protein foods that contain little or no saturated fat, including eggs, shellfish, lean meat and poultry, beans and peas, soy products, nuts and seeds.

However, the new guidelines do not suggest restricting total fat, a nutrient that has been much maligned, albeit unfairly it is turning out, as something to avoid to maintain a normal body weight. While it is true that ounce for ounce, fat has more calories than sugars and proteins, it is also more satiating and can curb overeating.

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Jeffrey R. Ungvary President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary