The report is significant because it determines the foods served in school lunches and sets priorities for the food assistance programs. The guidelines also impact labeling, advertising and the advice given by medical professionals.
The basic take-home message remains the same: eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean proteins and healthy fats. But there are some updates to incorporate into your diet:
- It’s important to limit added sugar, which are sweeteners added to processed foods such as cane sugar and corn syrup. The guidelines recommend that less than 10 percent of your daily calories come from added sugars. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is proposing new food label rules that would require manufacturers to list added sugars separately from naturally occurring sugars, such as those in fruit.
- Cut the salt. The guidelines recommend less than 2,300 milligram a day for everyone (which is one teaspoon!), and less for people with some medical conditions.
- Reduce saturated fat consumption to less than 10 percent of daily calories. Part of this recommendation includes consuming only low- or non-fat dairy products.
- For the first time, the dietary guidelines specifically include coffee and alcohol as part of a healthy diet. They recommend no more than three cups of coffee a day for average adults. For alcohol, the recommendation is up to one drink a day for women and two for men.
- The guidelines eliminate restrictions on consuming cholesterol, which is good news if you like to eat eggs or shrimp.
The U.S. guidelines don’t include limitations on processed meats, even though the World Health Organization recommended doing so because of their identified link to colon cancer. But it does recommend that we eat primarily lean meats.
The guidelines were developed by a team of 15 health and nutrition experts from across the country, including Cornell nutrition professor Thomas Brenna, who pored over the available evidence, including systematic reviews and reports generated by science organizations, to create a report to the Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
If you’re interested more information on nutrition and healthy eating, it’s worth checking out the full guideline document.