I just learned yesterday that we have a new set of dietary guidelines. The U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services meet every five years to update the nation’s dietary guidelines. Their mission is to identify food and beverages that help us achieve and maintain a healthy weight, and promote health and prevent disease.
Several positive changes to this year’s edition may actually promote health and wellness.
A 2013 study linked one in five deaths in America to obesity. Diabetes, hypertension, lipid problems and heart disease are all associated with obesity. Is the problem that the guidelines are wrong, or that they are just not being followed by the general population? According to the new guidelines, it is safe to assume that both answers are at least partially correct. The guidelines seem to be headed in the right direction.
Cholesterol has for many years been blamed for causing heart disease. According to the 2015 guidelines, we don’t need to concern ourselves with our cholesterol levels, as they are not a concern for overconsumption.
However, the guidelines do recommend that no more than 10% of our diet should come from saturated fat. While trans fats have been proven to be harmful, saturated fats are necessary for optimal health.
Supporting this theory are the results of a 2014 study which reported that there is no sign that people who eat high amounts of saturated fat were more likely to suffer from heart disease, and concluded that there is no good reason to cut back on saturated fat to protect the heart. Rather, by reducing carbs (especially simple carbs) and increasing saturated fats such as olive oil, coconut, oil, raw nuts, and avocados, energy levels increase and proper cellular and hormonal functioning is maintained.
A welcome and notable change in these latest guidelines is that they no longer promote artificial sweeteners for weight loss. While they may suffice for occasional use, they encourage weight gain and have been shown to worsen insulin resistance and metabolic disorders.
More good news, in my opinion, is that the panel also recommends limiting refined grains, and relying more on a whole foods diet and lesson a specific nutrient, fat, carb, or protein regime. Most importantly, they note that vegetables and fruits are consistently helpful in fighting against every disease. I don’t know if they went on to say that the Standard American Diet (SAD) is woefully deficient in both. They do, however, recommend eating fewer animal products and more fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
I realize that this overview is a very broad-stroke description of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines. For those of you who want a more deliberate, scientific rundown of the document, go to
There definitely is some good news to be had here. We can wait and watch and hope for even better trends in the future. Meanwhile, we can hope that more and more Americans will make healthier and healthier food choices. A recent Nielsen Global Health and Wellness survey reported that 41% of younger consumers are willing to spend more money to eat healthier food. Maybe there is some wonderful trending afoot.
Thanks! Enjoy these long summer days, rainy though they may be!