DIETARY GUIDELINES FOR AMERICANS (2015-2020)
Dietary guidelines simply mean a guide for a healthy diet. These guidelines for healthy eating were put forth by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and are revised every five years (most recent being 2015-2020) to form and evaluate nutrition programs and policies. It is used as a tool to form federal food, nutrition and health policies as well as serves as a guide for professionals and the America public make healthy food choices. They reflect the importance of creating healthy eating habits in order to improve nutrition status, overall wellbeing and reduce risk of disease. Let’s delve right n then!
Dietary Guidelines for GRAINS:
At some point we all take grains either refined or whole! Replacing refined grains with whole grains is healthier and here is why. Refined grains contain just the endosperm which contains starch and protein, very well, but the whole grains consist of the bran (rich in fiber and nutrients), endosperm and germ (rich in vitamins and minerals), so much for refinement.
Selecting at least 6 ounces of grains with at least half of these (3 oz) whole would ensure a healthy contribution of nutrients such as essential B-Vitamins, iron, folate and fiber to the daily diet. Some examples of whole grains include brown rice, millet, oats, buckwheat, whole wheat products, barley and so forth. Conversely, examples of refined grains include white rice and refined grain products.
Refined grain products include but are not limited to biscuits, cakes, cookies, cornbread, crackers, pastries and granola. However, in the early 1940’s congress passed legislation requiring that all grains passing state lines be enriched with iron, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin.
Further down the line in 1996, this legislation was amended to include folate, an essential vitamin to preventing birth defects. This means we can now get these much talked about nutrients in whole grain, fortified cereals. Isn’t that marvelous?!
Dietary Guidelines for FRUITS AND VEGETABLES:
These are no new comers to such lists. Everybody has heard at some point the phrase “eat your vegetables!”. Well, we are still gonna ask you to eat them, but this time we-d tell you why you should.
Fruits contain a valuable amount of minerals, vitamins, nutrient and PHYTOCHEMIALS. I am emphasizing on photochemical because I see a lot of people consume just one particular type of fruit example, apples and then claim to eat a lot of a fruits which by that means plenty apples, hahaha. But literally the person just gets a particular set of nutrients from apple in contrast to a person that takes a variety of types and color, gets varieties of nutrient. Phytochemicals are chemical contents o fruits and vegetables that give them their characteristic color.
Asides color, these bioactive components have the potential to reduce risk of various chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, obesity among others. These different colors connote different phytochemicals which confer different benefits. So let us do more of fruit variety (too many fruits in the grocery store to try out) than stick to a particular one.
The USDA has set a serving of vegetables at 2 cups and fruits at 2 ½ cups per day. Choosing fresh, green leafy vegetables ensures you get unadulterated vitamins as wet boiling or steaming of vegetables cause nutrients to leach into the water and subsequently lost. Also, limit vegetables that contain solid fats or added sugars such as baked beans, candied sweet potatoes, French fries, refried beans, coleslaw and French fries.
Still on the issue of VEGETABLES, dressings and ranches could work against a person trying to eat healthy by contributing unnecessary sodium and calories to the diet. To this end, we suggest healthy choices such as olive oil dressing. Another helpful option could include stir frying the vegetables in healthy vegetable oil, such as olive oil or canola oil with some garlic, ginger or onions. Yummy! Guess what I’m having for supper?
Dietary Guidelines for MILK AND MILK PRODUCTS:
I am guilty of this *covers face*. I love love love whole milk; I mean who wouldn’t? but it is not the very best. It is advised to replace whole milk products with fat-free or low fat options (preferably 1%). Milk is rich in calcium, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B12, calcium, potassium and when fortified, vitamins A and D.
If you do not consume milk, please choose products rich in calcium and vitamin D. Limit intake of milk products that contain added sugars and are high in fat such as whole milk and whole milk products such as cheeses, cottage cheese and whole milk yoghurt (do Greek yogurt instead), 2% reduced fat milk, ice cream, whole fat chocolate milk, custard, milk shakes, pudding and sherbets. The current recommended daily amount for milk lies at 3 cups per day.
Since milk products are important source of calcium and some are fortified with vitamin A & D, we might as well choose the fat free ones thereby helping ourselves eat healthy and also getting the nutrients we need.
Dietary Guidelines for PROTEIN:
Protein foods which include seafood, poultry, eggs, legumes, soy products, nuts and seeds as well as beef and pork not only provide proteins but also B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, zinc and magnesium.
It is advised by the DGA to take a variety of these foods, not just only poultry because that’s some people idea of protein. Varieties of proteins include; lean meat, eggs, legumes, unsalted nuts and seeds, soy products and poultry. These foods provide vitamins B & E, Zinc, iron and Magnesium. We must also know that we could consume these foods in an unhealthy way by adding too much fat and sodium, so we really need to be careful when cooking them.
To keep fat intake low, bake, roast, grill or braise meats, poultry and seafood but avoid frying them in fat. For example try not to fry your poultry and sea foods in fat, drain all visible fat after cooking and peel poultry skin off to reduce fat content.
For the nuts; I know we are always tempted to buy/eat salted nuts which increase the intake of sodium, so let us make better choices which include unsalted nuts and unfried nuts. Because nuts and seeds are energy dense, it is advised that they be consumed in little quantities and in place of, not in addition to other,, high protein and fat foods such as beef and pork.
Limit protein foods that contain solid fats such as bacon, pork, beef, fried mat, marbled steak, poultry with skin and ggs. The current RDA for proteins is 5 ½ oz per day based on a 2000 Kcal diet.
Some Tips for Vegetarians:
Lacto-ovo-vegetarians who eat animal-derived foods such as milk and eggs receive high quality protein and are more likely to meet their protein RDA. A well planned vegetarian diet helps to ensure adequate intake of nutrients such as protein, iron, vitamin B12, vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids. All it takes is adequate knowledge and proper planning with a nutritionist. *wink*