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New Dietary Guidelines

The latest nutrition guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Human Services have a new emphasis: weight control. In previous years, the guidelines focused on nutrients: what proportion of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates is optimal for health? Or, what amounts of different vitamins and minerals do you need to protect yourself from diseases?

The slogan for the new guidelines is "Calories in, calories out." Put another way: we should strive to maintain a calorie balance, eating no more calories than we burn each day. If you are overweight, the goal is to eat fewer calories than you burn each day to reach a healthy weight. Calorie control and daily physical activity are the cornerstones of the new guidelines.

With this in mind, the Dietary Guidelines include these recommendations for foods to cut back on and foods to increase:

7 foods to reduce

  1. Reduce daily sodium intake to less than 1500 mg (African Americans and persons older than 51).
  2. Consume less than 10% of calories from saturated fatty acids by replacing them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty foods.
  3. Consume less than 300 mg per day of dietary cholesterol.
  4. Keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible.
  5. Reduce the intake of calories from solid fats and added sugars.
  6. Limit the consumption of foods that contain refined grains, especially those with solid fats, added sugars, and sodium.
  7. If you consume alcohol, it should be consumed in moderation--up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

8 foods and nutrients to increase

  1. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, especially dark green, red and orange vegetables, fruits, and beans and peas.
  2. Consume at least half of all grains as whole grains. Increase whole-grain intake by replacing refined grains with whole grains.
  3. Increase intake of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk-products, such as yogurt, cheese, or fortified soy beverages.
  4. Choose a variety of protein foods, which include seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds.
  5. Choose seafood in place of some meat and poultry.
  6. Replace protein foods that are high in solid fats with proteins that are low in solid fats and calories.
  7. Use healthy vegetable oils to replace solid fats where possible.
  8. Choose foods that provide more potassium, dietary fiber, calcium, and vitamin D, which are nutrients of concern in American diets. These foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and milk and milk products.
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