We’ve known for many years that certain foods promote good health — especially fruits, vegetables, fiber, plant oils, and whole grains. But the latest nutritional science shows that there is not a single “healthy diet.” Instead, there are many patterns of eating around the world that sustain good health. A healthy eating pattern also includes enough energy (calories) to fuel the body, but not so much as to cause weight gain.
In the past U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Human Services nutrition guidelines were focused on nutrients. The 7th edition of the Dietary Guidelines (2010) were released at a time of rising concern about the health of the American population as we are experiencing an epidemic of overweight and obesity.
Obesity health issues include:
Type II Diabetes, Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure, Sleep Apnea, Osteoarthritis, Gall Bladder Disease, Fatty Liver Disease, Cancer, Asthma,Chronic headaches, Varicose veins, Coronary artery disease, Hernias, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
Poor diet and physical inactivity are the most important factors contributing to overweight and obesity affecting all age groups . Hence, the focus has shifted to weight control in the new guidelines. The new slogan is “Calories in, calories out” and calorie control and daily physical activity comprise the foundation. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 [PDF – 2.9MB] include these recommendations for foods to cut back on and foods to increase:
7 foods to reduce
1. Reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) and further reduce intake to 1,500 mg among persons who are 51 and older and those of any age who are African American or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.
2. Consume less than 10% of calories from saturated fatty acids by replacing them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
3. Consume less than 300 mg per day of dietary cholesterol.
4. Keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible.
5. Reduce the intake of calories from solid fats and added sugars.
6. Limit the consumption of foods that contain refined grains, especially those with solid fats, added sugars, and sodium.
7. If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation — up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men — and only by adults of legal drinking age.
8 foods and nutrients to increase
Eat more of these foods while staying within your calorie goals.
1. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, especially dark green, red, and orange vegetables, fruits, and beans and peas.
2. Consume at least half of all grains as whole grains. Increase whole-grain intake by replacing refined grains with whole grains.
3. Increase intake of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, or fortified soy beverages.
4. Choose a variety of protein foods, which include seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds.
5. Choose seafood in place of some meat and poultry.
6. Replace protein foods that are high in solid fats with proteins that are low in solid fats and calories.
7. Use healthy vegetable oils to replace solid fats where possible.
8. Choose foods that provide more potassium, dietary fiber, calcium, and vitamin D, which are nutrients of concern in American diets. These foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and milk and milk products.
Eat real food. That’s the essence of today’s nutrition message. Our knowledge of nutrition has come full circle: from a time when most people grew and prepared their own food to an era when processed, factory-made foods were celebrated (think Tang and TV dinners). Now, the nutrition pendulum has swung decisively back toward eating food that is as close as possible to the way nature made it. Based on a solid foundation of current nutrition science, Harvard’s Special Health Report Healthy Eating: A guide to the new nutrition describes how to eat for optimum health.
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Americans Tipping the Scales
Diet for a Small Planet
Americans not eating enough fruits and vegetables
Eating Simply: Eating Well
Celebrate Earth Day with better food choices
In Defense of Real Food