The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture share a responsibility to the American public to ensure that advancements in scientific understanding about the role of nutrition in health are incorporated into the Dietary Guidelines on a regular basis. Therefore, every five years the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services releases a new set of 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are designed to improve the health of the U.S. population. The 2015-2020 guidelines were released January 7, 2016, and map out a clear path for people to follow to optimize health and prevent chronic disease. What does this mean for us as consumers and educators?
There are some key takeaways from the new guidelines.
- Eat for Health and for the Long Run
This means that a healthy eating pattern can be established for an individual’s lifetime and can help a person reach/maintain a healthy weight and can help prevent chronic diseases like obesity, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. There is more than one type of healthy eating pattern, and various examples are included in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines.
- Focus on Variety, Nutrient Density, and Amount
To meet nutrient needs within calorie limits, choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods across and within all food groups in recommended amounts.
- Limit Calories from Added Sugars and Saturated Fats and Reduce Sodium Intake
Consume an eating pattern low in added sugars, saturated and trans fats, and sodium. Cut back on foods and beverages higher in these components to amounts that fit within healthy eating patterns.
- Start with Small Changes
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the idea of changing what we eat. By focusing on small improvements over time, eating healthy becomes more manageable. With so many choices to make every single day about what to eat and drink, each choice is an opportunity to make a small but healthy change. An example of this would be switching to whole grain brown rice from refined white rice.
- Support Healthy Choices for Everyone
Everyone can play a role in encouraging easy, accessible, and affordable ways to support healthy choices at home, school, work, and in the community. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans includes examples of strategies to employ that support these healthy choices. Learn more about how you can help support healthy choices.
See the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans for more detailed information.
contributed by Jill Jensen, former AnswerLine Specialist