New USDA Dietary Guidelines Mean Better Health for You
For years nutritionists have wanted guidelines that reflect the benefits of a diet of low fat and complex carbohydrates, while the meat and milk industries lobbied the United States Department of Agriculture for a dietary pyramid that reflected their interests. And for years meat and milk (and grain) lobbies have been winning.
The old UDSA dietary pyramid recommended these daily servings:
- 6 -11 servings of grains, with no distinction between simple and complex carbohydrates.
- 3 – 5 servings of vegetables
- 2 – 4 servings of fruits
- 2 – 3 servings of dairy, with no distinction between low and high-fat choices
- 2 – 3 servings of meat, eggs, nuts, and beans, with no distinction between low and high-fat choices
- Fats, oils, sweets, with a recommendation that they be eaten sparingly.
Amazing but true, the first set of guidelines came in 1894 when Wilbur Olin PhD wrote a USDA Farmers’ Bulletin suggesting that Americans should eat fewer fats and sugars, exercise more, and watch their calories.
This year the nutritionists finally won. On June 2, 2011 the United States Department of Agriculture replaced the 19-year-old food pyramid with a colorful 4-section plate as the icon representing the new USDA dietary guidelines. This icon (called MyPlate) divides food choices for each day into 4 groups it deems to be healthiest. The groups are vegetables, fruits, grains, and protein. It looks like this:
- Vegetables, approximately 1/4th of the plate
- Fruits, approximately 1/4th of the plate
- Grains, approximately 1/4th of the plate, still allowing 1/2 of grains to be refined.
- Proteins, approximately 1/4th of the plate.
Vegetables are represented as slightly larger than fruits, and grains are represented as slightly larger than proteins. Beside the plate is a small glass representing dairy, the fifth food group. There is no longer a group for fats, oils, and sweets.
This plate and the guidelines which support it are a significant reversal of the previous food pyramid. They represent the most current information, which nutritionists and medical experts believe will result in optimum health for Americans.
Here are the USDA’s new recommendations:
- Balance calories by enjoying food but eating less, and by avoiding oversized portions.
- Eat more good stuff: Make half the plate fruit and vegetables, switch to nonfat or low-fat milk.
- Eat less bad stuff: Look for lower-sodium soups, breads, and frozen meals; drink water instead of sugary drinks.
Vegetables — Make room for vegetables. Remember, vegetables, along with fruit, should cover half of your plate. Choose a variety of multi-colored vegetables from these vegetable groups. This is one of the best things most Americans can do to improve their nutrition.
Fruits – Fresh, whole fruits are ideal because you get the added value of maximum vitamins and fiber in your diet. But frozen and dried fruit count, too — as does 100% fruit juice. Try different fruits, such as mangoes, raspberries, or kiwi, along with apples, bananas, oranges, and your other favorites.
Whole Grains – Aim to eat at least half of your grains as whole — rather than refined — grains. That means choosing brown rice, whole-grain bread, and whole-wheat pasta over white rice, white bread, and regular pasta. You can also add whole grains like oatmeal, muesli, and bulgur to your diet.
Oils – These have been dropped as a group because many foods already contain oils, and a key nutrition goal for most Americans is to cut back on fat.
Dairy – The “glass of dairy” icon is a reminder to add low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, and other calcium rich dairy products to your diet. Calcium –fortified soy milk and lactose-free milk are widely available now for those who are lactose intolerant. High-fat foods made from milk that have little calcium in them don’t count as dairy.
At a news conference to introduce the new dietary guidelines, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “We want to move away from our over-reliance in the past on sugar and sodium and saturated fat.” Some other points he made were
- Avoid processed foods as much as possible
- Avoid fast food whenever possible
The new dietary guidelines point out specific sources of solid fats, saturated fats, added sugar, and refined grains as well as the best foods for fiber.
(Source: Webmd.com/USDA Ditches Food Pyramid for a Healthy Plate)
Nutritionists applaud these new guidelines as great steps toward beginning to repair the problems of obesity and preventable disease in America. So do vegans. Vegans have been advocates for this type of diet (substituting other products for animal and dairy products) for a long time. A vegan flush is a great jumpstart to adopting these dietary guidelines. Its emphasis is on cleansing the toxins from old destructive eating habits which included saturated fats, too much fat, too much sugar, and undigested remnants of meat and other products.
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