Every five years, health experts revise the Dietary Guidelines (the government’s official healthy eating dos and don’ts) based on new food science and research. This year, there’s one big change that might make you rethink your juicing habit.
The Obama administration announced the latest changes this week, NPR reports, and the quick summary is basically: Eat less sugar. Like, take what you’re already consuming, and cut that in half.
For decades, fat was vilified as the worst thing you could possibly eat. But over the past five years, an insane amount of research has showed how sugar is essentially poison to our bodies. (Some evidence: Here’s what happens when you eat 40 teaspoons a day.) The new guidelines recommend limiting sugar intake to no more than 10 percent of your daily calories, which is about 12 teaspoons on a 2,000 calorie diet. To put that in perspective, right now the average American downs about 22 teaspoons. (It doesn’t, however, come close to the goal of six teaspoons, set forth by the World Health Organization last March.)
That’s not the only change: Gone are the days of a strict dietary cholesterol limit—instead, the new guidelines state, “Individuals should eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible[…. Since] foods that are higher in dietary cholesterol, such as fatty meats and high-fat dairy products, are also higher in saturated fats.” That means high-cholesterol foods that aren’t high in saturated fat—like eggs—are fair game.
What you won’t see in this week’s announcement? Despite recent studies revealing the potential risks of consuming both processed meat and red meat in general, there’s no recommendation to cut back. Rather, the guidelines state that they “can be accommodated as long as sodium, saturated fats, added sugars, and total calories are within limits in the resulting eating pattern.” The US government does, however, suggest a “shift towards other protein foods,” like nuts, seeds, and at least eight ounces of seafood per week.
Good rule of thumb: Choose protein-rich foods that are paired with healthy fat. And if it’s honey-roasted or dusted in sugar, skip it. —Amy Marturana
For more common sense food advice, here are six ways that Michael Pollan wants you to rethink healthy eating.
(Photo: Viktor Hanacek via PicJumbo)