Letter to the Editor

BY DI READERS | MARCH 02, 2011 7:20 AM

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New dietary guidelines give good advice

A few weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 — yes, it is 2011, but better later than never. The overlying goals are to balance calorie intake with expenditure to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, as well as to focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods. There are many recommendations to help Americans reach these goals — reducing some foods and increasing others. Here are a few highlights:

• Increase vegetable and fruit intake.
• Increase intake of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese or fortified soybeverages.
• Consume at least half of all grains as whole grains. Increase whole grain intake by replacing refined grains with whole grains.
• Increase the amount and variety of seafood consumed by choosing seafood in place of some meat and poultry.
• Use oils to replace solid fats where possible.
• Reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg and reduce further to 1,500 mg among persons who are 51 and older and those of any age who are African American or have high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.

In a press release, the USDA explained ways to make changes in the three areas of balancing calories, foods to increase and foods to decrease. These helpful tips will get you going in the right direction:

Balancing calories
• Enjoy your food but eat less.
• Avoid oversized portions.
Foods to increase:
• Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
• Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk.
Foods to reduce:
• Compare sodium in foods such as soup, bread and frozen meals — and choose the foods with lower numbers.
• Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

Whether you agree with all the recommendations or feel they didn’t quite meet what you had envisioned, the guidelines provide good direction to help get you started. Seventy-two percent of American men and 64 percent of American women are overweight or obese — it is time to make a change.

Amy A’Hearn, R.D., L.D.
Health Iowa dietitian

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