Eat Less Sugar, and Keep Eating Fruits, Veggies and Whole Grains

As most everyone knows by now, the USDA/HHS 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released today.  There's no shortage of media reporting on this, from NPR to the New York Times (and many, many bloggers).  The guidelines' release wasn't a surprise; USDA and HHS wanted to capitalize on American's efforts to eat more nutritiously in the new year and as a result, waited until 2016 to ring in our new dietary recommendations.

The executive summary has a few lists highlighting the key points.  

The top 5 include:

  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.

Number 3!  Hooray.  Limit calories from added sugars.  This will have ripple effects for food manufacturers, food policy and FDA's efforts to strengthen the nutrition label.  

Related to this, here are the more nuanced recommendations:

  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars
  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats
  • Consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium

We should feel good about these guidelines.  They're strong and reflect sound science.  Take a look at the full report to see the full set of changes made since 2010.