HHS and USDA Announce 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

On January 7, 2016 the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Released every 5 years, these guidelines contain nutritional and dietary information and recommendations to help individuals choose a healthy diet and improve their overall health. These guidelines are also developed to help reduce the risk of diet-related chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.

The 2015-2020 edition of the Dietary Guidelines highlights the impact of an individual’s “eating pattern” and the food and nutrients that comprise those patterns.  As described in the report, an eating pattern represents the total of all foods and beverages an individual consumes. The guidelines then use recommendations to provide food-based guidance on what those eating patterns should include and how to establish your own healthy eating pattern.  Below you will find the five guidelines from the 2015-2020 edition along with the key takeaways.

1. Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. All food and beverage choices matter. Choose a healthy eating pattern at an appropriate calorie level to help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, support nutrient adequacy, and reduce the risk of chronic disease.

  • A healthy eating pattern includes: fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, grains, oils.
  • A healthy eating pattern limits: Saturated fats and trans fats, added sugars, sodium.

2. 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.

3. Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake. Consume an eating pattern low in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. Cut back on foods and beverages higher in these components to amounts that fit within healthy eating patterns.

Example sources of:

  • Saturated fats: Ice cream sundae and cheeseburger
  • Added sugars: Regular soda and chocolate chip muffin
  • Sodium: Pepperoni pizza and cold-cut sub

4. Shift to healthier food and beverage choices. Choose nutrient-dense foods and beverages across and within all food groups in place of less healthy choices. Consider cultural and personal preferences to make these shifts easier to accomplish and maintain. Replace typical food and beverages choices with more nutrient-dense options. 

Example: Meal A: Pasta with cream sauce, shift to Meal B: Pasta with oil-based sauce and zucchini, peppers, broccoli, carrots, and parmesan cheese.

5. Support healthy eating patterns for all. Everyone has a role in helping to create and support healthy eating patterns in multiple settings nationwide, from home to school to work to communities.

In summation, the key takeaways from the 2015-2020 edition are:

Eat for Health and for the Long Run – Choose a healthy eating pattern that works for your tastes, culture, and budget. An eating pattern that is easy to maintain can be preserved over a lifetime.

Start with Small Changes – Make small shifts to healthy food choices and slowly incorporate more nutritious foods into your eating pattern. Each meal and snack presents an opportunity for improvement.

Support Healthy Choices for Everyone – No one should have to make healthy choices alone. Encourage everyone at work, home, and in your community to stay healthy.

To view the complete report, visit : http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/

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