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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

5 Things to Know About the New Food Guidelines

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL |  BY TENNILLE TRACY |  21 FEB 2015 8:49AM

A panel of nutrition experts recruited by the Obama administration to help develop the next set of dietary guidelines released its long-awaited recommendations this week. The panel addressed everything from red meat to coffee, unveiling a 570-page report that will be used by the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services to craft new diet guidelines later this year. The guidelines, which form the basis of the MyPlate icon (formerly the food pyramid), represent the government’s final word on what constitutes a healthy diet. They’ve been published since 1980. They influence billions of dollars of government funding for nutrition programs, including school lunch standards and the Defense Department’s menu guidelines.


1Americans are eating poorly.


MARK LENNIHAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
About two-thirds of all adults, or 155 million people, are overweight or obese. Roughly half have at least one preventable disease, including cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer. Poor eating habits and physical inactivity are playing a major role. The situation is forcing the U.S. health care system to focus on treatment rather than prevention, the committee said. So what to eat? The panel suggests more fruit, vegetables, whole grains, low or non-fat dairy, seafood, legumes and nuts. What to limit? Red and processed meat, sugar-sweetened food and drinks, and refined grains.


2Consider the environment.


REUTERS
The advisory committee took a controversial step by asserting the government should consider the environment when determining what Americans should eat. Generally speaking, this means promoting a diet that’s limited in meat but contains lots of fruit and vegetables. It also means eating seafood whose stocks aren’t threatened. According to the panel, the global production of food accounts for 80% of deforestation and 70% of fresh water use. The government has to focus on sustainable diets if it wants to ensure an adequate food supply will be available for future generations, it said. The meat industry says the panel has strayed too far from its mission. The beef industry, in particular, is accused of being tough on the environment, in part because it generates greenhouse gas emissions.



3Ditch the cholesterol limits.

CHARLIE NEIBERGALL/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Current dietary guidelines suggest Americans limit their cholesterol to 300 milligrams a day. That’s less than what’s found in a couple of eggs. This time around, the advisory panel said it’s ditching that recommendation because it can’t find evidence of an “appreciable relationship” between dietary cholesterol and cholesterol in the blood. The American Heart Association has also said that limiting dietary cholesterol will not lower the artery-clogging LDL (bad) cholesterol.



4Coffee and alcohol? Those can be okay.


GETTY IMAGES
The panel said “moderate” amounts of coffee – three to five cups a day – has been found to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. For some people, even more coffee could be better. One study found the risk of Type 2 diabetes was 37% lower for people drinking 10 cups a day. But it warned against consuming too many calories from the cream and sugar that are often added to coffee. As for alcohol, the panel said a moderate amount could also be part of a healthy diet. But it also said no one should start drinking alcohol just because of potential health benefits. And booze is still off-limits for pregnant women.


5Beef. It’s not necessarily what’s for dinner.


AP PHOTO/WICHITA FALLS TIMES RECORD NEWS,
TORIN HALSEY
Americans should eat less red and processed meat, the panel said. Diets that high in those types of meat, along with french fries and sweets, are associated with a greater risk of colon and rectal cancer, it said. Red and processed meat is also associated with age-related cognitive impairment. In other parts of the report, the panel excluded lean meat from a list of foods that make up a healthy diet. It added in a footnote that said lean meat could be okay but researchers haven’t yet come up with a standard definition for what qualifies as lean meat. The meat industry pushed back against what it perceives as an anti-meat agenda. “Lean beef is one of the most nutrient rich foods, providing high levels of essential nutrients such as zinc, iron and protein, as opposed to empty calories,” said the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.



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In Health,
The Naturally Botanicals Team
www.naturallybotanicals.com