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New USDA Dietary Guidelines

New nutrition recommendations filled with numerous changes.

At the start of the new year, the Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA  wielded the new 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for use.  As a result of the National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act of 1990, guidelines are constantly updated and published as new recommendations are approved.  Because of the constant change in Americans’ diets both good and bad, health care providers are encouraged to stay abreast of the topic, as detrimental medical conditions are associated with poor food and beverage choices by individuals.

According to a previous article published on www.eatrightpro.org, the academy of Nutrition and Dietetics rallied against congress for Dietary Guidelines to be solely based on evidence-based/scientific research, instead of being influenced by Congress and an outlined budget, which would hinder the impact of future guidelines.

Due to the knowledge of professionals who comprise the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, recommendations are held as the new standard every time they are publicized.  In this year’s case, scientists and researchers targeted the American people’s eating habits and patterns, which in turn streamlined recommendations and individual diet patterns.

Published in the guidelines are five overall goals and 13 recommendations for use by medical professionals to positively impact and increase a patient’s quality of life.

The six goals include: follow a healthy eating pattern over one’s lifespan; incorporate variety/nutrient density into diet; limit calories from added sugar and saturated fats, decrease the ingestion of sodium; switch to more health-sound foods and drinks; and encourage healthy eating habits for others around.

Some key recommendations:

  • Vegetables from all groups, including dark green, red, orange, beans/peas, and starchy vegetables.
  • Include whole fruits in diet.
  • The intake of grains with at least half being whole grains.
  • Fat free/low fat dairy, which consists of milk, yogurt, cheese, and even fortified soy beverages.
  • Protein with variety: seafood, lean meat, eggs, poultry, nuts…
  • Less than 10% of calories should come from added sugars for the day.
  • Less than 10% of calories should come from saturated fats.
  • Limit sodium intake to about 2,300 mg/day in individuals over the age of 14.
  • Women should consume no more than one alcoholic drink a day, and men no more than two per day.

The guidelines promote the addition of more fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.  They also recommend decreasing intake of trans fat, saturated fats, and sugars, but not eliminating them as a whole.  Healthcare providers may meet resistance from patients if presented with that drastic approach, which could be a reason the dietary guidelines might be shying away from that ideal.

Practice Pearls:

  • Whole grains (oatmeal, corn, brown rice, quinoa) can help improve cholesterol levels, lower rates of heart disease, and even decrease instances of obesity.
  • Most food labels are based on 2,000-calorie diets.
  • The American Heart Association recommends exercise three to four times a week at about 40 minutes each time.

DeSalvo KB, Olson R, Casavale KO. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. JAMA. Published online January 07, 2016. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.18396.

www.eatrightpro.org,. “Academy Urges Congress To Continue Science-Based Development And Scope Of Dietary Guidelines For Americans”. N.p., 2016. Web. 11 Jan. 2016.

Heart.org,. “Whole Grains And Fiber”. N.p., 2016. Web. 11 Jan. 2016.

Heart.org, The American Heart Association’s Diet And Lifestyle Recommendations”. N.p., 2016. Web. 11 Jan. 2016.

Researched and prepared by Samantha Ferguson  Doctor of Pharmacy Candidate FAMU College of Pharmacy, reviewed by Dave Joffe, BSPharm, CDE