From our workout routines to our diets, being quarantined at home during the coronavirus pandemic has certainly impacted our overall mental and physical health. If you’re hoping to get your health back on track, consider the new dietary guidelines released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USDA). A committee made up of dozens of leading national nutritionists and scientists studied Americans’ overall health and created nutritional guidelines that are applicable for the next five years.
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The USDA created their guidelines based on the fact that more than 70 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, which is a driving factor of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Additionally, food insecurity disproportionality impacts more than 37 million Americans, particularly those from low-income households, Black and Hispanic households, and single-parent households.
The report outlines a number of overarching guidelines for healthy Americans: follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan; focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount when choosing food; limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake; and shift to healthier food and beverage choices. Healthy eating patterns include a variety of vegetables, legumes (beans and peas), whole fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-dairy products, and a variety of lean protein such as seafood, poultry, eggs, and nuts. Examples of foods high in sodium, added sugars, and saturated fats are soda, bakery-style muffins, pizza, cheeseburgers, and ice cream sundaes.
Experts recommend that adult Americans consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars and less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats. They also advise that adults should consume less than 2,300 milligrams per day of sodium (which is the equivalent of one teaspoon of salt). If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation—up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.
These guidelines don’t mean that you need to deprive yourself of delicious food. Instead of cooking fettuccine alfredo for dinner, prepare a light pasta primavera with plenty of vegetables and olive oil instead of butter. In the future, nutritionists hope that the USDA and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will conduct more research on the health impact of red meat, ultra-processed food, sustainability, and sodium, according to CNN.