WASHINGTON -- The U.S. government released on Jan. 31 the first update in five years to its Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The seventh edition of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's guidelines reiterate much of the advice from previous versions, including cutting back on salt and saturated fats and consuming more fruits and vegetables and whole grains.
The most notable change is that about half of Americans need to sharply reduce the amount of salt they consume each day, according to the dietary guidelines. A maximum daily intake of 1,500 milligrams of sodium is recommended for people who are 51 and older, all black Americans, and anyone with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. The maximum recommended amount for all others remains 2,300mg. a day, which is about a third less than what is consumed by the average American.
The guidelines place a stronger emphasis on combating obesity by reducing calorie consumption and increasing physical activity. They advise consumers to enjoy their food, but eat less of it by avoiding oversize portions. Another key difference in the latest recommendations versus earlier versions is that they suggest more actionable ways for consumers to meet the guidelines, such as making sure half of a plate is covered in fruits and vegetables, drinking water instead of sugary drinks and switching to fat-free or low-fat milk.
The guidelines are intended as a roadmap for federal nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch Program, and influence how foods are developed and the types of ingredients used, such as more whole grains or fortified foods, and snacks without trans fats or added sugars.
The government said it plans to release additional tools to help consumers incorporate the recommendations into their diets, including a next-generation Food Pyramid, in the coming months.