The highly anticipated 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans have just been released. These guidelines are updated every five years (since 1980!) to reflect the latest research and knowledge breakthroughs in nutrition in order to help Americans stay healthy. In this eighth edition, there are some interesting changes that you should be aware of in order to help you stay—or get—in killer shape.
For years you’ve heard that cholesterol is bad for you. The maximum recommendation has been 300 milligrams per day, but in the newest guidelines this recommendation has disappeared. Why? Because there is a lack of evidence to support the fact that cholesterol from food has a major impact on raising your blood cholesterol. However, that doesn’t mean you can eat the skin of the chicken every day and pop as many egg yolks as you’d like. Moderation is still important.
2. Added Sugar
The Dietary Guidelines finally put a number on the sweet stuff. You should consume no more than 10-percent of your daily calories from added sugar. That comes out to 200 calories (or 50 grams) for a 2000-calorie diet. Seems like a lot but not if you consider the fact that one 16-oz bottle of soda has 44 grams alone (which you should definitely skip). The guidelines further specified that added sugar does not include fruit and dairy, where sugar is naturally part of the food.
3. Saturated Fat and Trans Fat
The type of fat you choose to eat matters. Saturated fat from butter and the skin of the chicken should be limited to no more than 10-percent of your daily calories. Further, plant-based fats like avocado, olive oil, and nuts are better for you. The guidelines also specified that tropical oils like palm and coconut (yes, you heard correctly!) should be minimized. The guidelines state: “Coconut, palm kernel, and palm oil are called oils because they come from plants. However, they are solid or semi-solid at room temperature due to their high content of short-chain saturated fatty acids. They are considered solid fats for nutritional purposes.” It is recommended that Americans use liquid (not solid fat) whenever possible. Solid fats have been linked to diseases such as heart disease.
The recommendation for sodium did not change and remains at no more than 2,300 milligrams per day (which is about a teaspoon of salt).
Alcohol can be part of a healthy diet, but should be consumed in moderation which is defined as 2 drinks per day maximum for men. One drink is equivalent to 12-fluid ounces of regular beer, 5-fluid ounces of wine, or 1.5 fluid ounces of 80-proof liquor (like vodka or rum).
This is the first time coffee has been given lots of love. If you already drink coffee (or caffeinated beverages) then it can be part of a healthy diet. But, no more than 400 milligrams per day of caffeine should be consumed, which is equivalent to three to five eight-ounce cups of coffee. However, the guidelines clearly stated that if you don’t drink coffee or caffeine, there is no reason to start now.
7. Eating Healthy Is Personal
We all don’t have to choose the same type of protein, or eat the same vegetables. What you choose to eat can differ based on food likes and dislikes, culture, traditions, religion, cost, and availability. In order to stay healthy, however, you do want to consume a variety of foods from the following food groups: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, protein (like lean beef, poultry, seafood, beans, peas, nuts, and soybean products), low fat and fat free milk, and healthy fats.
Also, you just can’t get all your foods fresh all the time, and that’s okay! The guidelines say that fresh, canned, dried, and frozen can all be part of a healthy eating pattern.