New Federal Dietary Guidelines Emphasize Well-Rounded Eating

The recommendations suggest eating a diverse diet while reducing sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars.

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Grocery shopping photo via Shutterstock

The Departments of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Agriculture (USDA) have released the latest version of their Dietary Guidelines for Americans report, and—good news—it’s basically all common sense.

This is the eighth version of the report, a document intended to reduce health problems associated with poor nutrition and diet. The guidelines stay fairly consistent over time, amended only to include current scientific knowledge. This year’s recommendations include:

  • Eating nutritious foods across food groups, including all types of vegetables; fruits; grains, at least half of which should be whole grains; fat-free or low-fat dairy; proteins, from plants and lean meats; and healthy oils.
  • Limiting saturated and trans fats, sodium, and added sugars—specifically, getting less than 10 percent of caloric intake from added sugars and less than 10 percent from saturated fat, and consuming less than 2300 milligrams of sodium per day.
  • Women should limit alcohol consumption to one drink per day, while men can have two.
  • In accordance with the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should get 150 minutes of exercise each week, and devote two days of the week to strength training.

Many of the suggestions overlap with those reached at November’s Finding Common Ground conference, an event that brought top nutritionists to Boston to decide on the basis tenants of healthy eating. Both groups recommend cutting down on meat consumption, as it is linked to heart disease, though the dietary guidelines still consider it part of a healthy diet.

The Dietary Guidelines report also found that more than 80 percent of Americans do not consume the daily recommended amount of vegetables, and more than 60 percent do not consume enough fruit. A majority of people are also still eating too much saturated fat, sodium, and added sugar.

Nothing in the new recommendations is all that shocking; it simply emphasizes mindful, well-rounded, nutritious eating, and getting enough exercise. Fair enough.