Due to the fact that almost two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, the new guidelines place a strong emphasis on calorie control and physical activity. According to the guidelines, a healthy diet is one that:
- Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products.
- Includes lean meat, poultry, fish, bean, eggs, and nuts
- Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars
Another key emphasis of the new guidelines is mixing up your choices within each food group to enhance nutrition. Here are some key suggestions directly from the report:
Focus on fruits: Eat a variety of fruits – whether fresh, frozen, canned or dried – rather than fruit juice for most of your fruit choices. For a 2,000-calorie diet, you will need 2 cups of fruit each day (for example, 1 small banana, 1 large orange, and ¼ cup of dried apricots or peaches).
Vary your veggies: Eat more dark green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and other dark leafy greens; orange veggies, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and winter squash; and beans and peas, such as pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, split peas, and lentils.
Get your calcium-rich foods. Get 3 cups of low-fat or fat-free milk – or an equivalent amount of low-fat yogurt and/or low-fat cheese (1 ½ ounces of cheese equals 1 cup of milk) – every day. For kids aged 2 to 8, it’s 2 cups of milk. If you don’t or can’t consume milk, choose lactose-free milk products and/or calcium-fortified foods and beverages.
Make your grains whole. Eat at least 3 ounces of whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice, or pasta every day. One ounce is about 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of breakfast cereal, or 1 ½ cup of cooked rice or pasta. Look to see that grains such as wheat, rice, oats, or corn are referred to as “whole” in the list of ingredients.
Go lean with protein. Choose lean meats and poultry. Bake it, broil it, or grill it. And vary your protein choices – with more fish, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds.
DASH Eating Plan Fights High Blood Pressure
Scientists know that diet affects the development of high blood pressure (hypertension). Recently two important studies showed that blood pressure can be lowered by following a new dietary eating plan called DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).
The DASH diet is simple and effective and encourages eating more dark green vegetables, orange vegetables, legumes, fruits, whole grains, low-fat milk and milk products. The DASH eating plan has been designed to reduce the amount of refined grains, total fats (especially cholesterol, saturated and trans fats) and added sugars in your diet. The combination of DASH and a reduced sodium intake offers the biggest benefits and may help prevent the development of high blood pressure.