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Posts Tagged ‘healthy dietary pattern’

picture of fruits, vegetables, and meat and poultry foods.

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were just released! While much of the information they contain has been carried over from previous guidelines, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) continue to review research and present evidence-based recommendations for a healthy life. Below are the main themes and takeaways from the 2020 guidelines.

“Follow a healthy dietary pattern at every life stage.”  This guideline emphasizes the importance of healthy eating at every stage of life to promote health and reduce the risk of chronic disease. For infants to 6 months of life, the guidelines recommend the exclusive consumption of human milk. If human milk is not an option, it is important to choose an iron-fortified infant formula. Regardless of human milk or formula, infants should also be given a vitamin D supplement. At 6 months, infants can begin to eat nutrient-dense foods. When introducing new foods, do so one at a time in case there is an allergic reaction. From 12 months on, the guidelines recommend eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods and establishing a healthy dietary pattern that can span one’s lifetime. This will help meet nutrient needs, maintain a healthy weight, and ultimately reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, and obesity.

“Customize and enjoy nutrient-dense food and beverage choices to reflect personal preferences, cultural traditions, and budgetary considerations.” The current American population is vastly diverse and culture extends to the plate. The current document welcomes this diversity and looks to customize the guidelines to fit an individual’s cultural background.

“Focus on meeting food group needs with nutrient-dense foods and beverages and stay within calorie limits.” Throughout the document, the phrase nutrient-dense comes up quite a few times. What is the difference between nutrient-dense and calorie-dense? Simply put, nutrient-dense food contains many nutrients with minimal added sugars, saturated fat, or sodium. Calorie-dense foods, on the other hand, tend to be high in added sugar, fat and sodium with limited vitamins and minerals. Filling your plate with nutrient-dense foods to meet your caloric needs will result in a healthier life.

“Limit foods and beverages higher in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium, and limit alcoholic beverages.” The guidelines recommend individuals age two and older limit added sugars and saturated fat to less than 10% of calories per day. Sodium intake should be less than 2,300mg per day. Men should limit their alcohol intake to two beverages a day and women to one drink per day.

two hands holding a beverage in glass

Modifying one’s diet can be daunting, but there are tools to make it easier to eat better. MyPlate can help you visualize your plate, and the new MyPlate planning tool can help you customize it! Eating better for one’s health does not have to be a difficult endeavor, or one you embark upon alone.

Written by: Emily Beasecker, BGSU Graduate Student interning with Ohio State University Extension, Wood County Extension, and Susan Zies, Extension Educator , Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Wood County, Zies.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County, Lobb.3@osu.edu

Sources:

Home | Dietary Guidelines for Americans [Internet]. Dietaryguidelines.gov. 2021 Available from: https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/

MyPlate | U.S. Department of Agriculture [Internet]. Myplate.gov. 2021 Available from: https://www.myplate.gov/

American Heart Association (2018). How can I eat more nutrient-dense foods? https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/how-can-i-eat-more-nutrient-dense-foods

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