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March 9, 2016

The 3 Best Things About the New Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The Hood Answer Mom, Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.

When the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) comes out every five years, people tend to focus on what foods they can’t eat.  Here are some of the high points of the 2015 DGA that don’t involve dietary deprivation

The buzz about coffee is good.  According to the 2015 DGA, coffee, and caffeine, can be part of a healthy eating pattern. The new guidelines say 24 to 40 ounces of regular coffee a day (providing up to 400 milligrams of caffeine) is OK.  Coffee consumption may be a factor in good health. Drinking coffee is associated with reduced risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. If you don’t consume caffeine in all of its various forms (coffee, tea, carbonated soft drinks, etc.), there’s no need to start.  If you’re coffee lover, pour yourself another cup or enjoy coffee in this Simply Smart Cappuccino that offers more calcium than a glass of regular milk!

Eggs are back on the menu. Do you avoid eggs because of their cholesterol content? You can stop now. The 2015 DGA dropped the daily recommended limit of 300 milligrams of cholesterol, which ruled out having more than a few eggs weekly. Why the change? Research shows that the cholesterol in food does not play a major role in blood cholesterol levels. Many factors affect blood cholesterol, which in turn affects heart disease risk. Those factors include how much you weigh, your family history of high blood cholesterol, and how much saturated fat you consume.  The cholesterol cap has vanished, but you still need to limit saturated fat intake to about 22 grams a day or less on a 2,000-calorie eating plan.

You don’t need to be so strict about sodium. The 2015 DGA has relaxed sodium suggestions.  Unless you have high blood pressure or another condition that means you must limit sodium intake, it's OK to have up to 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily. The 2010 DGA suggested nearly half of us eat no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily, which is difficult to do because sodium is found in nearly every food and in higher amounts in processed foods. Limit highly processed foods and restaurant fare and include at least five servings of raw and lightly processed fruits and vegetables every day to make it easier to keep sodium within the recommended limits.   


Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D., is a writer, nutrition consultant, and mother of three. She is the author of several books, including MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better and Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, & After Pregnancy . Ward is also a contributing writer for Muscle & Fitness Hers and Men's Fitness magazines.

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