Time to tweak your diet

Published in Heart & Vascular, For the Health of It Author: Jessica George, Registered Dietitian

It might not have been a big news splash but the U.S Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture recently revised the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This is a resource for health professionals and policymakers as they design and implement food and nutrition programs such as the USDA’s National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program. You will see the changes reflected on food labels for recommended daily allowances.

What changed?

  • Eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible to reduce your risk of heart disease (former recommendation was only 300 milligrams per day).
  • Limit sugar to 10 percent of your daily calories. That would be about 200 calories if you follow a 2000 calorie diet or 12.5 teaspoons (one and half cans of Coke).
  • Limit salt intake to 2,300 milligrams a day (only 1,500 milligrams if you are at risk for heart disease).
  • Limit saturated fat consumption to less than 10 percent of daily calories. That would be about 200 calories if you follow a 2000 calorie diet or 20 grams of saturated fat (a double quarter pounder with cheese).
  • Teenage boys and men should reduce their overall intake of protein foods such as eggs, poultry and meat.
  • Drink three to five eight-ounce cups of coffee a day (400 mg of caffeine). Moderate coffee consumption is associated with a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It also may reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease.

What should you eat?

  • A variety of vegetables — dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy and other
  • Fruits
  • Whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy
  • A variety of protein foods including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), nuts, seeds and soy products
  • Oils