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What you should know about the FDA’s updated dietary guidelines

What you should know about the FDA’s updated dietary guidelines
What you should know about the FDA’s updated dietary guidelines

Every five years, the FDA updates its dietary guidelines for Americans. The 2015–2020 guidelines, which were released at the beginning of the year, contain several changes, both expected and unexpected.

Generally speaking, the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines expand upon the previous edition’s focus on weight management to address the prevention of a broader range of diet-related chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. It emphasizes overall eating patterns — the combinations of all the foods and drinks that people consume every day.

What’s new in the 2015–2020 guidelines?

The new dietary guidelines for Americans emphasize foods that reduce the risk of chronic disease and contain the right number of calories for maintaining a healthy body weight. According to the new guidelines, a healthy diet should contain:

• a rich variety of vegetables and fruits
• whole grains
• fat-free or low-fat dairy foods (milk, yogurt, cheese)
• protein foods with little or no saturated fat (eggs, shellfish, lean meat, poultry)
• beans and peas
• soy products
• nuts and seeds

The new dietary guidelines urge greater consumption of whole grains and the restriction of refined grains, like white rice and white bread, cakes, cookies and pastries, which are stripped of their essential nutrients.

For the first time, the dietary guidelines specifically mention that moderate coffee consumption can be part of a healthy eating plan. In regards to alcohol, the guide also recommends drinking in moderation — up to one drink a day for women and two for men.

Americans are urged to limit consumption of saturated fats and to limit sodium (salt) intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams per day for adults and children over 14. The new guidelines are also hard on added sugar, suggesting limiting added sugars (not naturally occurring sugars) to less than 10 percent of your daily calories.

The FDA’s Dietary Guidelines provide a great outline for a healthful eating pattern for adults. For more specific diet and nutrition guidelines based on your individual health and weight, consult with a registered dietitian.