A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Federal dietary guidelines recommend eating less red and processed meat, sugar and refined grains

Kentucky Health News

The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services have released proposed 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The guidelines, released every five years, “provide authoritative advice about consuming fewer calories, making informed food choices, and being physically active to attain and maintain a healthy weight, reduce risk of chronic disease and promote overall health,” says USDA.

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It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the 2015 guidelines recommend eating healthier foods, while cutting back on less healthy alternatives. “The committee basically recommended Americans take up a diet that is higher in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low- or nonfat dairy products, seafood, legumes and nuts,” Chris Clayton reports for DTN The Progressive Farmer. “We should cut back on red and processed meats and sugar-sweetened foods, drinks and refined grains. And we should be moderate in our alcohol.”

Recommended cutbacks of certain foods have not gone over well with those food producers, who met this week to give feedback on the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s recommendations, Clayton writes. The North American Meat Institute argued that “lean meat, poultry, red and processed meats should all be part of a healthy dietary pattern because they are nutrient-dense protein.”

Shalene McNeill, a nutritionist for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, “told the committee that its recommendation to exclude lean meat ignores decades of nutrition science,” Clayton writes. McNeill said Americans should be encouraged to eat more lean meat, along with fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Grain, sugar and milk producers also expressed displeasure with the proposed rules.

Most nutritionists have embraced the proposed rules, but say the key is getting people to adopt them, Andrea McDaniels reports for The Baltimore Sun. Among those rules is limiting sugar intake to 200 or less calories, or 10 percent of total calories, per day. Currently, Americans get about 13 percent of their calories, or 268 calories, from added sugar.

“On the flip side, some foods once shunned are now accepted,” McDaniels writes. “Research has found that cholesterol-high foods are no longer believed to contribute to high blood cholesterol, so people can now indulge in shrimp, eggs and other foods that were once off limits, the panel said. Rather than focus on cholesterol, people should curb saturated fat to about 8 percent of the diet.”

The panel also said “up to five cups of coffee a day are fine, so long they are not flavored with lots of milk and sugar,” McDaniels writes. “The panel also singled out the Mediterranean diet—rich in fish and chicken, fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grains, olive oil and legumes—for its nutritional value.”

Kentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

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