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New dietary guidelines released by USDA and HHS

For the first time, the American government’s nutrition recommendations cover all age groups.
DGA Book Cover
Photograph courtesy of USDA and HHS

The latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans were jointly released last week by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services.

For the first time, nutrition recommendations are specified for all age groups.

“USDA and HHS have expanded this edition of the dietary guidelines to provide new guidance for infants, toddlers, and pregnant and breastfeeding women, helping all Americans to improve their health, no matter their age or life stage,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.

The science-based guidelines, which are updated every five years, provide the foundation for federal nutrition programs but are also designed to steer Americans toward healthier eating patterns.

The newest recommendations encourage Americans to “make every bite count” by focusing on nutrient-dense foods and beverages. A noteworthy change with this edition is a greater emphasis on fruits and vegetables.

According to the guidelines, the core elements that make up a healthy dietary pattern include:

• Vegetables of all types—dark green, red and orange, legumes, starchy, and more

• Fruits, especially whole fruit

• Grains, at least half of which are whole grain

• Dairy, including fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese; lactose-free versions and alternatives such as fortified soy beverages and yogurt

• Protein-rich foods, including lean meats, poultry and eggs; seafood; legumes; and nuts, seeds and soy products

• Oils, including vegetable oils and oils in food, such as seafood and nuts

Allergens also received increased attention. Based on the research, it’s now recommended that high-allergen foods such as eggs and peanuts be introduced to babies as early as four to six months as a way to stem food allergies later on.

Also of note is a reinforcement of the advice to limit added sugars and alcoholic beverages, although the recommended amounts haven’t changed.

This ninth edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans spans 2020-2025.

 

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