Once every five years, the USDA publishes its world famous Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These are guides that nurture better eating patterns established on the up-to-date research and studies on nutrition. There was a recent update on the USDA Daily Nutrition Guidelines 2016, and there are four key areas that stand out from the past guidelines.
As there are a lot of nutrition information out there, these guidelines are the basis of many government food programs all over the world.
Below are the four key areas that you should take note of, for a healthier start this 2016.
Avoid added sugar at all costs
Definitely the main point from the newly released nutrition guidelines is to control the intake of excess sugar and carbohydrates. The guide suggests that everyone, as well as older adults, must limit their daily sugar intake at only 10 percent of their daily total caloric intake.
Sugar-sweetened drinks such as everyone’s favorite carbonated drinks, energy and sports drinks, as well as flavored tea and coffee, are the largest sources of abused sugar intake around the world. Of course, let’s not leave out those so-called comfort foods like candy, cookies, and pastries.
The sugar content of these commercial foods and drinks can unnoticeably accumulate very fast if you don’t keep track. A great example would be a 16-ounce glass of your favorite cola that you consume in one sitting already has 41 grams of sugar, but the American Heart Association says a person should have less than 36 grams of sugar per day.
Your risk of heart failure increases with drinking too much of those sugary drinks, according to recent studies. It was found in those studies that among the 42,000 men ages 45 to 79 who took the trials, the ones who drank more than two sugar-sweetened drinks per day were 23% at more risk of developing heart failure when judged with those who opted for natural beverages or plain water. Not even diet soda made the list for the healthier option.
Advice: Focus on moderation. There’s nothing bad about taking in sweets occasionally, but be sure to limit the amounts consumed daily. If possible, don’t have them every day. Try flavored water instead, or go black with coffee, and take tea as it is.
Keep your potassium and sodium levels healthy
While there is increased awareness in monitoring and cutting down sodium (salt) levels in the body to prevent acquiring high blood pressure, studies by the USDA show that up to 4% of older people take in enough potassium in their diet. Potassium is essential for the optimal function of our cells, and not enough amounts of potassium may lead to irregular heartbeat as well as recurring muscle weakness.
Advice: Ample amounts of this much needed nutrient can be obtained from fruits like bananas, plantains, cantaloupe, honeydew, and kiwi, as well as from vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, and tomatoes.
Eat a variety of foods
It is quite important to have a varied eating pattern. Mixing things up on a regular basis exposes you to an assortment of micronutrients. These are a broad selection of the much needed minerals like selenium, calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium, as well as the essential vitamins.
These micronutrients keep our bodies protected from various conditions like heart disease. They also enhance bone health, and maintain our body’s systems to run smoothly.
Advice: Widen your exposure to micronutrients is by trying out foods from different cultures, cuisines, and cooking styles. Also, focusing on nutrient-dense foods, like whole fruits and vegetables, is a great idea. , To amp it up, keep your choices of natural produce interesting and varied, so that you are more inclined to take in more fruits and vegetables regularly.
Get more of the good fat
While the previous USDA Daily Nutrition Guidelines say that the daily intake of fat should only amount to no more than 30% of the daily caloric intake, the new set of guidelines focuses more on the type of fat each person consumes.
Saturated fat from processed and red meat should still be widely avoided, while intake of healthier kinds of fat such as monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, including omega-3s, should be increased. These healthy fat shields against heart disease. Studies also show that they can help improve cognitive function, just like how the top 10 brain supplements work.
Advice: Know your fats, and take the good ones. Great sources of healthy monounsaturated fats include nut butters and nuts like pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, and cashews; as well as olive, canola, and peanut oils. Polyunsaturated fats are good for the body too, and can be found in safflower, sunflower, and soybean oils. Omega-3s are heart-loving fats that are very plentiful in fatty fish, like wild salmon, tuna belly, and fresh sardines.
Modify Your Eating Habits
Changing your way of thinking about food is one of the best ways on developing better and healthier eating habits. Here are ways on how to gradually incorporate healthy eating habits into your daily routine, without making it feel like a chore to you.
- Give your attitude towards food a nice makeover, so you can get a healthier approach to dining. In example, if you are part of a relationship, engage yourself in preparing meals for you and your partner. Take part in the grocery shopping to have a pick on which healthy foods you want to cook, participate in the preparation and cooking of the meals, and take pride in your finished dish!
- If you’re living by yourself, have a friend come over to your house for dinner or organize a group potluck every week. This will certainly help you be more aware of your food intake, and as an added bonus it inspires you to eat more home-cooked meals, which cuts down on fast food and takeout that can be laden with salt, calories, and sugar.
- Not yet comfortable cooking your own meals? Enroll in a basic cooking course at your community center or college. Once you get to enjoy food preparation and cooking, you see healthy eating as a habit you look forward to.