The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010

I wrote a blog post back in June of 2010 explaining the Dietary Guidelines (click the link) and how they were currently under review and consultation. The consultation period has ended and the United States Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) have now published the official Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. (click the link to view the official guidelines).

These Dietary Guidelines are a set of guidelines or suggestions that advise us on how healthy dietary habits can promote overall health and reduce the risk of various diseases. They are updated and published every five years.
Here are some key nutritional points contained within the new guidelines:
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables–at mealtimes, fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables.
  • Consume more seafood, as this is a lean protein source and contains essential omega 3 fats. An important note for pregnant or breastfeeding women–avoid eating shark, king mackerel, tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico and swordfish due to higher levels of mercury.
  • Make at least half of all the grains you eat whole grains.
  • Replace higher fat dairy with low or non-fat dairy products–dairy is a great source of many nutrients, including calcium, which is important for bone health.
  • Choose a variety of lean protein sources, including vegetarian sources like beans, peas and soy products.
Additionally, the guidelines admonish us to limit intake of certain foods/nutrients, including:
  • Eat less calories from solid fats, including trans fats–instead, replace these fats with more healthy fats like monounsaturated fats (olive oil, canola oil, avocados, nuts/seeds).
  • Eat less calories from added sugars and refined carbohydrates–instead, replace these foods with whole grains or naturally sweet foods like fruits.
  • For the general population, reduce sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day. That’s about 1 tsp of salt per day, but remember, this includes not just salt added at the table, but sodium found in packaged and processed products and sodium found naturally in foods.
  • For people over age 51, African Americans, or those with a history of high blood pressure, kidney problems or diabetes, reduce sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day. That’s about 2/3 tsp of salt per day.
For more information about the new guidelines, here are some good articles. Just click on the link to each article found below:
Rachel Cope MPH, RD, CD