Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2010 Finally Arrives in 2011!!

The calendar may read 2011, but the 2010 update of US Dietary Guidelines for Americans is a tad overdue and is expected to make its debut sometime very soon. As you’ve no doubt heard, the American diet could use some improvements to battle obesity and help prevent diet related illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The goal of the update includes an emphasis on advice based on the latest nutrition research; a lot of which has emerged since the last guidelines were released five years ago. So, what does a healthy diet look like these days? Are there clearly defined dietary devils and darlings so we know what to avoid and what to add to our plates? Addressing these questions was the job of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) established to update the 2005 Dietary Guidelines by taking a look at current consensus in nutrition science and advising leaders at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on what Americans should be eating today. What we’re waiting for now is the official publication of the 2010 US Dietary Guidelines. Already alerting consumers there may be meal planning changes in the works, the website for mypyramid.gov reminds visitors that the diet advice on the site is currently based on the 2005 guidelines and shares this link to check on the development of the new guidelines. www.DietaryGuidelines.gov

What’s New in Nutrition?A menu of the DGAC’s dietary suggestions which we may soon see incorporated in the final version of the US Dietary Guidelines includes this broad conclusion, “On average, Americans of all ages consume too few vegetables, fruits, high-fiber whole grains, low-fat milk and milk products, and seafood and they eat too much added sugars, solid fats, refined grains, and sodium.” Translation: Spend more time exploring the produce section and less time eyeing fried chicken in the deli.

Get Off The SofasRemember all the talk about “couch potatoes” referring to sedentary habits that contribute to weight gain? Well now couches are joined by sofas! The 2010 Dietary Guidelines report warns that “SoFAS” (solid fats and added sugars) contribute about 35 percent of calories to the American diet for kids, teens and adults. ‘Solid fats’ refers to the fat in butter, cheese, stick margarine, vegetable shortening (oils which are hydrogenated to be solid at room temperature) and the fats in meats. ‘Added sugars’ doesn’t need much explanation but don’t forget that includes soft drinks.

The 2010 “Uncle Sam Diet”, if you will.

DGAC Report: “Shift food intake patterns to a more plant-based diet that emphasizes vegetables, cooked dry beans and peas, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.”

Translation: Check out the vegetarian entrees on menus when dining out, even if you’re not a vegetarian, to increase intake of valuable nutrients including fiber and antioxidants.

DGAC Report: “Increase the intake of seafood and fat-free and low-fat milk and milk products and consume only moderate amounts of lean meats, poultry, and eggs.”

Translation: Lean toward low fat dairy and lean meats. For instance, from flank steak to top sirloin, there are 29 different cuts of beef which qualify as lean with less than 10 grams of fat per serving.

DGAC Report: The committee included advice to encourage the enjoyment of healthy food and pointed to the benefits of Mediterranean-style dietary patterns.

Translation: Enjoy platters of grilled fish and lemons, vegetables drizzled with olive oil and sliced melon for dessert. A glass of wine is OK, too.

DGAC Report: “Significantly reduce intake of foods containing added sugars and solid fats because these dietary components contribute excess calories and few, if any, nutrients.”

Translation: Don’t waste calories on sugar sweetened beverages and deep fried foods. If you do, spend those calories wisely with smaller portions enjoyed less frequently.

DGAC Report: “Reduce sodium intake.”

Translation: Shaking a salt habit doesn’t have to mean suffering with bland foods. Add a world of healthy flavors with fresh herbs, dried herbs, spices, citrus, vinegars, salsas, garlic and mushrooms.

DGAC report: “Lower intake of refined grains, especially refined grains that are coupled with added sugar, solid fat, and sodium.”

Translation: Looks like we better go easy on the donuts and tortilla chips.


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