1 February 11 Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010

For those of you looking for current, evidence-based nutrition guidance, be sure to take a look at the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.

These guidelines are for all Americans, aged 2 years or older, including those at increased risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and osteoporosis. They are based upon findings from an extensive review of nutrition studies. I will review key recommendations because I think they are really important.

Balancing calories to manage weight. There is a large body of evidence linking obesity (BMI of 30 or more) to increased risk for chronic disease, death at all ages, as well as increased social stigma and discrimination. Therefore, achieving a healthy weight is important. The focus is achieving a calories balance by controlling caloric intake and increasing physical activity. MyNetDiary members, you have a leg up on this one!

Foods to Reduce. The usual suspects make their appearance in this list: sodium, solid fats, partially hydrogenated oils (synthetic trans fats), dietary cholesterol, added sugars, refined grains (e.g. white flour) and alcohol. Solid fats are those that are solid at room temperature and are typically very high in saturated and/or trans fats. Animal sources of solid fats include fatty cold cuts, sausage, bacon, full fat/whole dairy products (e.g. cheese, butter, and milk), fatty cuts of beef and pork and poultry skin. Plant sources of solid fats include coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils.

However, a few things surprised me in this category:

Sodium: I thought that the sodium recommendation was going to drop to 1500 mg for everyone. Instead, the sodium goal remains under 2300 mg for the general population (no change from the 2005 guidelines). Sodium drops to 1500 mg for those who: are 51 years or older, are African American regardless of age, or have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. Before you do a happy dance, note that about half the population meets the criteria for following the 1500 mg goal. MyNetDiary users, you can track sodium in "mg" to find out how much you currently consume as well as to identify foods high in sodium.

Saturated fat: The new guideline is to consume less than 10% of your total calories from saturated fat. I thought that this guideline would drop to meet the American Heart Association's recommendation of less than 7%. For a 2000 calories diet, your goal would be less than 22 grams if you followed the Dietary Guidelines; whereas it would be less than 16 grams if you followed the American Heart Association's recommendation. That is quite a difference. Since most of us die from heart disease, I follow the American Heart Association's guidelines.

Foods to Increase. I love ending on a happy note. In this case, we want to add more foods to our eating plan, all the while keeping our calories in check: fruit, veggies (esp. dark green, red, and orange colors), dried beans/peas (legumes such as lentils, pinto beans, etc), nuts/seeds, whole grains (at least half your servings), fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products or fortified soy beverages and fish/seafood. These foods are nutrient-dense and provide valuable vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and macronutrients (fat, carbs, protein) for a reasonable caloric cost.

Nutrients to Increase. Specific nutrients that we tend to be low in and should be increased via food and/or supplementation include: vitamin D (600 IU for adults up to 70 years, 800 IU if 71 years or older), calcium (1000 mg for adults, 1200 mg for men over 70 years, 1200 mg for women 51 years or older), fiber (25 g for women, 38 g for men), and potassium (4700 mg for adults, 5100 mg if breastfeeding).

Population-specific foods/nutrients to increase include: iron and folate for women of childbearing age and during pregnancy, low mercury fish/seafood for pregnancy and vitamin B12 for those of you aged 50 years or older.
Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD
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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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Meal Planning & Diets/Healthy Eating

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