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New Dietary Recommendations Released: Some Surprising Changes

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which is a panel of experts that guides the federal government’s official advice on nutrition, has formally released its new recommendations. The recommendations will be used to craft the government’s 2015 Dietary Guidelines, expected to be released in the fall. The committee made several surprising changes in its recommendations, including removing warnings about consuming too much dietary cholesterol, as it did not find a substantial relationship between dietary cholesterol and heart disease. Other highlights from the committee’s report include:

  • Strongly advising against consuming too many added sugars not found naturally in food (such as those in fruit). The committee suggests limiting intake of added sugars to no more than 10% of daily calories, and replacing sugary drinks with water.
  • Raising the upper limit on sodium consumption to 2,300 mg per day for everyone. Previously, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines advised that people with hypertension should limit their sodium intake to 1,500 mg. This change is in line with some evidence that limiting sodium intake more strictly (to below 2,300 mg) does not provide additional cardiovascular protection.
  • Finding that coffee consumption is acceptable in moderation, noting some research that links 3 to 5 cups per day with a reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  • Strongly encouraging a plant-based diet, including eating more fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains, without specifically advising against meat consumption. In what may be the most surprising part of the recommendations, the committee notes that a plant-based diet is not only healthy, but sustainable as well, raising environmental considerations for what appears to be the first time in the committee’s history.

While these recommendations are not the final guidelines, the federal government tends to follow them closely when crafting the Dietary Guidelines. The Dietary Guidelines have an important influence on nutrition in the US; among other things, they inform the school lunch program, which serves 30 million children, and they help shape food assistance programs.

Source: New York Times

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