A Few Takeaways from the New Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 provides a clear roadmap to help people like you and me eat more healthfully and improve our overall wellness.  The primary focus in the new guidelines is helping people establish a healthy eating pattern.  A healthy eating pattern includes:

  • Eating a variety of colorful vegetables, including legumes (peas and beans).
  • Eating a variety of whole fruits.
  • Making at least half of the grains you eat whole grains.
  • Including fat-free or lowfat dairy in your diet, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy choices.
  • Eating a variety of protein foods such as lean meats, poultry, and seafood as well as eggs, nuts, and seeds.
  • Using healthier fats and oils, such as those from plants (canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, and sunflower).

Do these suggestions sound familiar?  That’s because they have been a central part of the Dietary Guidelines for years, supported by research and integral to human health and wellness.

Other highlights from the new Dietary Guidelines include:

  • Healthy eating one of the most important disease-fighting tools we have available to us.  The risk of acquiring chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and even cancer can be reduced by adopting a healthier diet.  The first step in eating more healthfully is making informed choices about the foods you eat.
  • Don’t forget the importance of physical activity!  Adults need 150 minutes of exercise a week to stay healthy.  Mix it up; include both cardio (aerobic) and muscle-building activities into your exercise routine.  Children between 6-17 need 60 minutes of physical activity a day.
  • Less than 10% of your total calorie intake per day should come from saturated fats.  An easy way to distinguish saturated from unsaturated fats is to remember that saturated fats are solids at room temperature and unsaturated fats are liquids.
  • Limit sodium! Adults and children over 14 should limit their sodium intake to no more than 2,300 mg a day (about a teaspoon). Children under 14 should consume even less.  This doesn’t just include added sodium, such as table salt, but the sodium naturally present in foods.  Be sure to read the Nutrition Facts label when calculating sodium.

One of the most interesting highlights in the new Guidelines is the focus on community health.  It’s everyone’s responsibility to encourage and model easy, accessible, and affordable ways to support healthy choices.  It’s only when we all work together for a healthier lifestyle that true success can occur.

For more information about the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, please visit http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/.

Source: “Top 10 Things You Need to Know About the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” January 7, 2016.