Understanding Dietary Guidelines
Food for Thought
Nutrients that have been shown to be lacking in the average American diet are fiber, calcium, potassium, magnesium, beta carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Fiber Facts, Fat-Soluble Vitamins, Water-Soluble Vitamins, and Calcium and Healthy Bones will give you lots of ideas about how to increase your intake of these vital nutrients without loading up on saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, salt, sugar, and alcohol.
Food for Thought
Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance will tell you everything you need to know about how to lose weight in a healthy manner. You'll find information about why crash diets don't work, how to calculate your ideal body weight, how to design a well-balanced eating plan for weight loss, and how to maintain your newly trim physique.
The Dietary Guidelines are aimed at helping people choose a diet and exercise plan that will reduce their risk for major chronic diseases.
The guidelines are a joint production of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and are revised every five years so as to keep up with the latest scientific evidence. The first edition came out in 1980 and the most recent one was released in 2005. The current edition features nine basic guidelines that focus on weight control, exercise, and getting the most nutritional bang for your caloric buck—all things that nutritionists have been preaching for ages!
- Eat nutrient-dense foods within caloric needs. Eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods and limit your intake of saturated and trans fats, added sugars, cholesterol, salt, and alcohol.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Maintain a healthy body weight by balancing calories in (from food) and calories out (from physical activity).
- Be physically active on most days. Regular exercise is an important factor in keeping your weight in check and your body and mind in great shape.
- Encourage certain food groups. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat dairy RULE!
- Choose the right fats. Keep your total fat intake around 20 to 35 percent of daily calories, and go for mainly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats— the kind found in fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
- Choose healthy carbohydrates. Choose fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains often and try to avoid packaged products that contain lots of added sugars.
- Get less sodium and more potassium. Choose and prepare foods with little salt, while consuming lots of potassium-rich foods. Your daily sodium intake should be less than 2,300 mg—that's approximately 1 teaspoon of table salt.
- Limit alcoholic beverages. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so sensibly and in moderation.
- Keep your food safe. Avoid food-borne illness—especially if you are pregnant or have a compromised immune system.
To help prevent chronic diseases, try to exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days.
To help prevent weight gain, aim for about 60 minutes of exercise on most days.
To maintain weight loss, shoot for 60 to 90 minutes of exercise on most days.
Make a point of having dark green, orange, and starchy vegetables—as well as legumes—several times a week.
Make most of your grains whole grains (try for at least 3 servings per day).
Consume 3 cups of fat-free milk, low-fat milk, or equivalent milk products per day.
Food for Thought
Women:"Moderation" is defined as up to one 12-ounce beer, one 5- to 6-ounce glass of wine, or 1¼ ounces of distilled spirits per day.
Men:"Moderation is defined as up to two 12-ounce beers, two 5- to 6-ounce glasses of wine, or 3 ounces of distilled spirits per day.
Keep trans fat consumption as low as possible, consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fat, and aim for a cholesterol intake of less than 300 mg per day.
When selecting meat, poultry, and milk products, choose lean, low-fat, or fat-free types.
More on: Children's Nutritional Needs
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Total Nutrition © 2005 by Joy Bauer. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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