New Dietary Guidelines to Control Weight and Minimize Health Problems

New dietary guidelines have been released by doctors and researchers at the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture (USDA).

The Guidelines scientifically show that Mom was right – you need to eat your fruits and veggies, choose whole grains, cut back on sweets and go easier on salt and saturated fat.

The new guidelines provide science-based recommendations on food and nutrition to promote health, get weight under control and prevent chronic health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Previous dietary guidelines focused mainly on individual components such as food groups or certain nutrients. 

The focus this time around is on healthy eating patterns to encourage good health over a lifetime for both individuals and groups.

"The key thing to focus on is dietary pattern," says registered dietician Heather Klug of Aurora St. Luke's.  "That you're bringing in enough fruits and vegetables. Whole foods. When your picking grains make sure they're whole grains. Always double check the ingredient list to check what's going in the product."

A healthy eating pattern is flexible and can be modified to meet an individual’s personal and cultural preferences as well as medical issues. The most important thing is to choose a healthy eating pattern that’s right for you.

Even small changes in your diet over time can greatly improve your health and wellness. You don’t have to make huge changes overnight.

Healthy eating is one of the most powerful tools we have to improve quality of life and to prevent chronic health problems. 

A healthy eating pattern includes a variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups — dark green, red and orange, legumes like beans and peas.

Fruits, especially whole fruits, and whole grains should be a part of your diet. Also include fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese and/or fortified soy beverages, as well as a variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas) and nuts, seeds and soy products

You should also limit saturated fats and trans fats, added sugars and sodium.

"For the first time they have put a numerical limit to sugar intake," noted Klug.

She says the average American consumes 25 teaspoons of sugar each day.

"It really should be half that amount," said Klug, "Less if you have a lower calorie level."

If you consume alcohol, it should be consumed in moderation — up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men — and only by adults of legal drinking age.

Klug says skipping a couple of day and doing three drinks in one day is a bad idea.

"One drink is good for the heart. More than that can do damage and to your liver as well."  

All food and beverage choices matter. As we shift to healthier food and beverage choices, our overall health and wellness will benefit.

Klug has a blog on the topic.

You can get there by clicking here.

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