What to eat is a big question. People have different needs that their diets must fulfill. Most of us want to eat in a way that supports optimal health.
Now, new dietary guidelines are proposed that go beyond human health to include eating to support the health of the planet.
The newest dietary guidelines have yet to become official 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
They are recommendations made by an expert advisory panel. If you were to adhere to these guidelines you probably would maintain a healthy weight, If you are overweight and chose to follow the guidelines you would probably change what you weigh.
There are some surprising inclusions:
Dietary cholesterol isn’t dangerous to your health.
The cholesterol content in food doesn’t raise your blood cholesterol levels, but saturated fat does (along with your genetic predisposition to high blood cholesterol levels.) That means you can eat your eggs. You do risk raising your cholesterol, however, if you fry them in butter and eat them with a side of bacon.
Watch your saturated fat!
Try to eat fewer than 10% of your daily calories in saturated fat. That’s about 20 grams of saturated fat on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet. To put that into perspective, 1-ounce slice of provolone cheese has nearly 5 grams of saturated fat.
Enjoy your java if you’re an adult! No fears of what it’s doing to your health is necessary. 3-5 cups a day is okay but what you put into your coffee – cream and sugar – needs to be monitored.
Wild-caught seafood and farm-raised are good. Many common farm-raised fish, including bass, cod, salmon, and trout, have as much or more healthy omega-3 fatty acids as fish caught in the wild.
There is a risk of mercury and other pollutants in wild-caught seafood, but that doesn’t outweigh the health benefits of eating seafood. The panel of experts recommend eating a variety of seafood, both wild-caught and farmed.
Plant-based diets are good for you and the planet.
Fruits, vegetables and whole grains should be the foundation of your diet. It’s a healthy way to eat and is good for the environment. If we all ate a plant-based diet we’d reduce the use of natural resources and avoid depleting them. That’s known as sustainability because it lowers the negative effects on the environment, including land and water use.
Not so surprising is the recommendations for salt and added sugars – Cut back (for some people the recommendations will be a huge cut back.)
People who are prone to high blood pressure should “shake it off” when it comes to salt consumption – less than 2,400 milligrams of sodium a day. Under 1,500 mg is even better to lower blood pressure. A teaspoon of salt has about 2,300 mg.
Keep added sugars to less than 10% of total calories. That would be 200 calories from added sugar on a 2,000-calorie a day diet*. One teaspoon of sugar has 16 calories,and 13 teaspoons have 208 calories. “Added sugars” is not the same as foods with naturally occurring sugar such as fruit.
Forget about artificial sweeteners as a replacement for sugar. The panel says beverages with artificial sweeteners isn’t a good replacement for sugary soft drinks. Just drink water.
The approved guidelines will be announced later this year.
*2000 calories a day is not many calories but advisable for people who are mostly sedentary. To eat enough to be satisfied you would be better off to eat 2500 calories and maintain healthy weight by increasing physical activity. If you want to change what you weigh, you may need to reduce your calories to 1200-1500 a day depending on your current weight, height, gender, age, and physical activity level.