What’s New in Nutrition?

What’s New in Nutrition?

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, of course! 

Put on your party hats! The new 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) is here!! Now I’m sure you’re probably not quite as excited for the eighth edition of these national nutrition guidelines as I am, but there are some interesting changes to take note. 

One of the hot topics of the 2015-2020 DGA is added sugars. Past editions of the DGA’s did not include a specific added sugar recommendation, much to the chagrin of the American Heart Association who put forth their own recommendation of no more than 9 tsp. of added sugar per day for men, and no more than 6 tsp. of added sugar per day for women. The new 2015-2020 DGA recommendation is to limit intake of added sugars to less than 10% of total calories per day. This does not include the types of sugars naturally present in foods like fruit (fructose) and dairy products (lactose). Currently, Americans get approximately 13-17% of their calories from added sugars. This is a problem because added sugars provide a lot of empty calories, potentially leading to weight gain and obesity-related conditions, like heart disease. So what does “less than 10% of total calories” actually mean? It means eating no more than 50g of added sugar daily based on a 2000 calorie/day diet. To put that into perspective, a 12 oz. can of Coca Cola has 39g of added sugar. 

Another important change to the 2015-2020 DGA is the cholesterol recommendation…or lack thereof. Emerging research suggests that dietary cholesterol plays a limited role in blood cholesterol levels (which are the cholesterol levels your doctor cares about). The previous edition of the DGA recommended limiting dietary cholesterol intake to less than 300mg/day. However, the 2015-2020 DGA makes no recommendation to limit cholesterol, stating, “adequate evidence is not available for a quantitative limit for dietary cholesterol…” Egg and shrimp lovers rejoice! These foods, traditionally on the “no-no” list due to their high cholesterol levels, are now considered a welcomed addition to a healthy diet when eaten in moderation. 

Finally, a new topic brought up in the 2015-2020 DGA is one that is particularly near and dear to my heart – coffee (and caffeine)!  I don’t know about you, but this dark, glorious elixir of life is just about the only thing that gets me out of bed some mornings.  Luckily for caffeine fiends like me, the research continues to support the benefits of drinking coffee, like a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  Earlier editions of the DGAs made little mention of coffee or caffeine, however with the mounting health research the 2015-2020 DGA states “Moderate coffee consumption (three to five 8-oz cups/day or providing up to 400mg/day of caffeine) can be incorporated into healthy eating patterns.” However, one important caveat is that people who do not currently consume caffeine are not encouraged to begin.  

The above topics are just a sample of the vast amount of nutrition advice put forth in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  If you’re interested in learning more, check out http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/, no party hat required!  

To your health!      


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