New guidelines on balanced meals

Issued every five years since 1980, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines set nutritional standards for state and federal programs such as school lunches, food stamps and programs benefiting children and pregnant women.

The recommendations announced Thursday aim to move Americans away from meals built around animal protein, high-fat dairy and simple carbohydrates and toward diets that more heavily emphasize fruits and vegetables, nuts and legumes drenched in such fat sources as olive, nut, soybean and sunflower oils.

Green light

» Fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts and such fat sources as olive, nut, soybean and sunflower oils

» Moderate fish and chicken consumption

» Reliance on whole grains

» Caffeine intake equivalent to three to five cups of coffee; recommendations say this level is not only safe but also appears to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in adults — and the caffeine may even protect against Parkinson’s disease.

Yellow light

» Limit saturated fats to no more than 10 percent of daily calories. That includes red meats, butter, cheeses and high-fat dairy products like ice cream and whole milk.

» Limit sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg a day, the equivalent of a single teaspoon of table salt. The average person eats 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day.

» Limit added sugars to 10 percent of daily calories. That’s about 200 calories a day, or about the amount in one 16-ounce sugary drink. Naturally occurring sugars, in fruits and milk, are OK.

» Eggs and others foods rich in cholesterol

Biggest changes

» Dropped a 2010 recommendation that Americans consume less than 300 mg a day of dietary cholesterol, or about two eggs. Still, discussion of cholesterol in the document says “individuals should eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible while consuming a healthy eating pattern.”

» Removed dietary cholesterol as a “nutrient of concern for overconsumption.”

» Backed off somewhat on 2010 salt recommendations. 2010 guidelines recommended that those most at risk of heart disease, or about half the population, lower their intake to 1,500. The new guidelines drop that amount.

Nutrition guidelines

The recommendations fit into five overarching guidelines in the new edition:

» Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. Eating patterns are the combination of foods and drinks that one consumes.

» Focus on variety, nutrient-dense foods and amount.

» Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats, and reduce sodium intake.

» Shift to healthier food and beverage choices.

» Support healthy eating patterns for all.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.