New guidelines recommend foods for a healthy diet

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The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans provides recommendations of foods to increase and decrease in our daily diets.

These guidelines come out every five years and serve as recommendations for what the average Ameri-can should be eating. If we can follow them for healthier eating, we are on our way to better health.

Foods to increase in your diet:

• Fresh fruits and vegetables. Eat at least 2 ½ cups daily. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Especially focus on eating more colorful fruits and vegetables. Fresh fruits and vegetables are naturally low in calories, so they can help control weight. Increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables lowers your risk of developing several chronic diseases.

• Milk and milk products. Adults should consume 3 cups of low fat or fat free milk, milk products, or fortified soy beverages, every day. These products supply essential nutrients like calcium, vitamin D and potassium to the diet. Choosing low fat options is crucial because full fat dairy products are high in saturated fat.

• Seafood. Consuming a variety of seafood types — fish like salmon and tuna as well as shellfish like shrimp and oysters — contributes a range of beneficial nutrients, especially omega-3 fatty acids. Increased consumption that meets but does not exceed recommended protein requirements has been shown to be beneficial to health.

•Plant-based oils.Replace solid fats like butter and margarine with plant based oils like olive oil and canola oil. They are not a food group, but supply essential fatty acids and vitamin E. Replacing solid fats with liquid oils lowers ‘bad’ cholesterol levels in the blood.

• Beans and peas.  As excellent sources of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, beans and peas may be considered both vegetables and protein foods. They make a great substitute for meat and poultry, with much less fat. Examples include kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas, lentils and black-eyed peas.

Foods to reduce in your diet:

• Sodium. All Americans should try to consume no more than 2,300 mg sodium per day. People 51 and older or those who are African American, have high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney disease should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day. So, watch that salt shaker and those salty foods.

• Sugary drinks. Drink water instead of sugary drinks. Sugary drinks make up a large portion of the excess calories in an average American’s daily diet. Cutting down on these drinks decreases your daily calorie intake, and can help control your weight.

• Saturated fat. Saturated fat should make up no more than 10 percent of your daily calories. This is 22 grams per day for a 2,000 calorie diet. High levels of saturated fat in the diet contribute significantly to your risk for heart disease, heart attacks, stroke and other related conditions. Saturated fat is solid at room temperature and is found in animal fats.

• Refined grains. Consume no more than 3 ounces per day. Instead choose products made with “whole grains” whenever possible. The refining of whole grains returns some, but not all, of the essential vitamins and minerals that were removed. Refined grains also lack fiber, an important component to any healthy diet. Many products made with refined grains are also high in fat and sugar, like cookies and other desserts.

• Cholesterol. Consume no more than 300 mg per day. Cholesterol is prevalent in animal products. High dietary cholesterol contributes to higher levels of cholesterol in the blood, which increases your risk for heart disease, heart attacks, stroke, and other related conditions.

If you want more information about any of these foods, please contact me at the Carroll County Extension office.


Grace Angotti is Carroll Co. Extension agent for family and consumer sciences. Call her at (502) 732-7030 or send e-mail to gangotti@uky.edu.