Recently released Dietary Guidelines of 2015 have Hillcrest South dietitians weighing in and providing their expert opinions for the key takeaways for what’s in, what’s out and what’s neutral this year. Food industries, they say, fight tooth and nail to make sure any new recommendations continue to keep them in a positive light. Any reduction in intake is a reduction in sales, and despite the effect on the health of Americans, companies want to protect their bottom line. That is why these new proposed changes are such a breath of fresh air. The most radical recommendation to come out of this committee, the dietitians say, – something that no committee has done previously – is to cap added sugar to 10 percent of the daily diet and the vindication for eggs.
Vegetables and fruits. This was the only category identified as beneficial across all health outcomes. For heart disease, certain foods are good; for diabetes, certain foods are good; for hypertension, certain foods are good. Fruits and veggies help prevent all of these, and there’s no limit as to how much you should eat.
Whole grains. The committee identified “shortfall nutrients” lacking in the American diet. Among these, calcium, vitamin D, fiber and potassium rated as public health concerns, because eating too little is tied to “adverse health outcomes.” Whole grains are a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Dairy. Because it provides calcium among other nutrients, dairy is a recommended part of the American diet. However, our concern is about what type of dairy people select. While skim milk and low-fat dairy are healthy choices, the industry will also continue churning out fat-heavy products such as butter and ice cream.
Coffee. The committee found “strong evidence” that moderate coffee consumption – three to five cups daily – does not pose a long-term health risk. Instead, it’s associated with a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, according to the report, with a possible protective association for Parkinson’s disease risk. Coffee’s probably the greatest amount of antioxidants we get globally, as not everyone eats broccoli, but almost everyone drinks coffee. However, you have to watch what you put in your coffee – sugar and cream don’t make the cut.
Eggs and shellfish. While high in cholesterol, eggs and shellfish are low in saturated fat. In itself, cholesterol in fooddoesn’t appear to raise blood cholesterol levels. However, saturated and trans fats do contribute to high blood cholesterol, which is bad for heart health. Eggs are an inexpensive, low-calorie source of antioxidants, protein and nutrients, includingcholine – which may have inflammation-lowering and memory-improving benefits.
Lean meat and poultry. Lean meat, chicken and turkey are no longer favored foods, which is a significant change. While lean meats are a source of protein, we’re already getting twice as much protein as we need in our diets. The committee gave chicken and turkey kind of a “neutral” pass.
Sugar. Sugar reduction topped the list of recommendations. Sugar has been a huge culprit in American diets. That includes sugar-sweetened beverages. Rather than switching to drinks with artificial sweeteners, the committee recommends water.
Refined grains. At the end of the day, it’s not just sugar in a piece of candy that will increase your blood sugar dramatically. It is choosing white bread, which has no fiber, over whole grains. Refined-grains products include: white rice, white bread and white flour. They make up noodles, pasta, crackers and some breakfast cereals.
Red and processed meats. It’s a big change to the American diet: the committee recommends reducing the amount red and processed meats Americans consume.
Saturated fats. People are still eating too many products high in saturated fat, evidence shows. The committee recommends taking in less than 10 percent of total daily calories from saturated fat.
Salt. Americans also continue to consume too much salt, the report finds. The goal for the general population is less than 2,300 milligrams of dietary sodium per day. The committee advises manufacturers to reduce sodium in their products, and consumers to replace salt with herbs and spices. Sticking to guidelines can help keep blood pressure under control.
By urging patients and all Americans to decrease sugar (and carbs in general) while improving the quality of fats in their diet, Hillcrest South dietitians say we can finally make some progress in reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease. Coupled with an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption and daily physical activity, we’ll see the numbers speak for themselves. This is why these new recommendations are so exciting. If we do this right, we can save millions of lives, say Hillcrest South dietitians. The Dietary Guidelines are currently undergoing the public comment period. The final report comes out this fall.