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Straight, No Chaser US Dietary Guidelines

By Jeffrey Sterling, MD July 21, 2019


The guidelines on eating recommendations are jointly released every five years by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Overall, these guidelines advise Americans to follow an eating pattern that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, grains (at least half of which should be whole), a variety of proteins (including lean meats, seafood, nuts), and oils. However, these recommendations come with a bit of nuance to which you’d be well advised to pay attention.


Here are the details, with simple rationale attached:
Alcohol: Moderate alcohol consumption now can be quantified up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. The recommendation is you stay at or under this amount.
Dairy products: If you’re eating dairy, the guidelines continue to recommend low and no-fat dairy products.
Dietary cholesterol: In a new recommendation, the guidelines no longer recommend a specific limit for dietary cholesterol. Among the foods you may frequently eat, dietary cholesterol is present in eggs and other animal products.
Fruit juice: The guidelines say one cup of 100% fruit juice counts as 1 cup of fruit. However, be advised that fruit juice is lower than whole fruit in dietary fiber and other nutrients, and it is typically very high in sugar, which you are now advised to limit, as noted below.
Red meat and processed meat: In an interesting reversal of the recommendation of its Guidelines Advisory Committee, the final recommendations suggest no limit is recommended for the consumption of red meat or processed meat. Be advised that recent evidence strongly link these foods with heart disease and cancer.
Saturated fats: The guidelines do not encourage a low total fat diet, but do recommend a low saturated fat diet. You should consume less than 10% of your calories per day from saturated fats. The evidence is clear that replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
Sodium (Salt): The guidelines recommend you limit sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day.
Sugar: For the first time, the guidelines advise Americans to consume less than 10% of your daily calories from added sugars. You certainly are aware of sugar’s impact on the development of diabetes, high blood pressure and other diseases.

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Eat healthy and be healthy. That’s the simplest recommendation I can offer. Here’s to your health!
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
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