“It’s definitely an improvement,” says Dr. Lipman, who considers food and dietary habits a form of medicine. “It has more fruits and veggies, and I like the idea of a plate.”
But it still could be much better, he says, starting with the proportions. Here’s Dr. Lipman’s Rx:
• 50 percent veggies
• 25 percent protein and fats, including legumes, nuts and seeds, free-range eggs, select fish, and grass-fed meats
• 15 percent fruit
• 10 percent whole grains
Dr. Lipman likes the plate idea, but would change what the USDA's put on it
And the dietary guidelines omit a handful of important details. Here are five factors Dr. Lipman recommends you keep in mind:
1. Not all protein is created equal. “For instance, factory farmed meats are unhealthy, as opposed to grass-fed meats, which are not,” he says. The guidelines should make distinctions between them and between types of fish that are high in mercury or higher in omega-3s.
2. Ditto for fruits and veggies. “It doesn’t differentiate between fruit and fruit juice, which is mainly just sugar.” Emphasis should be placed on lower sugar fruits like berries and on green, leafy and brightly-colored vegetables.
3. The guidelines recommend making at least half your grains whole grains, but they should ALL be whole grains. Dr. Lipman also cautions against too much gluten.
4. No dairy. “I’m not a fan of dairy products as a source of calcium—or anything, for that matter,” says Dr. Lipman.
5. Most importantly, “Somewhere it should mention the quality of nutrients and not just the quantity,” he says. Nutrient-dense food is key, no matter what the portions on your plate look like. —Lisa Elaine Held