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Introducing the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Jessica Padykula is a freelance writer and editor in Toronto, Canada covering a wide range of  topics for several online lifestyle publications. She is a regular contributor for SheKnows, covering travel, style, relationships, health and...

The new dietary guidelines

The US Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services just released the newest version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Updated every five years, the 2010 guidelines emphasize minimizing processed food, getting more fruits and vegetables, and increasing physical activity.

Family preparing healthy dinner

A look at the new dietary guidelines for Americans

The new 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage the consumption of more healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood, while limiting sodium, saturated and trans-fats, added sugar and refined grains. They recommend that Americans reduce their sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams per day and that less than 10 percent of daily calories should come from saturated fat.

Strike a balance for your health

The new dietary guidelines also emphasize balancing calorie intake with physical activity in an effort to promote health, reduce the risk of chronic disease and reduce the prevalence of obesity.

Exper tipsSome tips offered by the guidelines to help consumers make healthier choices:

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less.
  • Avoid oversized portions.
  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1 percent milk).
  • Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread and frozen meals – and choose the foods with lower numbers.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

What the new dietary guidelines mean for Americans

SheKnows.com talked to Glenn Gaesser, Ph.D. and author of Big Fat Lies: The Truth About Your Weight And Your Health, about what the new dietary guidelines mean for the majority of Americans.

Americans are still making poor food choices

2010 Dietary Guidelines

Since the new dietary guidelines are fairly comparable to the previous version (i.e., a focus on whole-grains, fruits and vegetables), there isn't anything suggested that should come as a huge shock to anyone. According to recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 34 percent of Americans are obese, which indicates we're still making the wrong food choices. "Everyone knows that we should be eating more whole grains and fruits and vegetables, and to limit intake of foods with lots of added sugar, saturated fat and salt, but living in the USA makes it a challenge," Dr. Gaesser says.

He notes that the healthy eating recommendations of the current guidelines have been made in previous versions -- the problem remains that very few people follow the recommendations. "When the food guide pyramid came out in the early 1990s, surveys several years later indicated that less than 10 percent of Americans actually followed the recommendations," he explains. "People still eat too few fruits and veggies, and dietary fiber intake is only about half of what it should be. So I do not think that the dietary guidelines will have much impact."

Up next: How to follow the new dietary guidelines >>

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