Among the recommendations included in the government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, which were released Wednesday:
Eating right is vital to promoting health and reducing the risk for death or disability due to chronic diseases such as heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, stroke, and osteoporosis. In fact, it has been estimated that dietary changes could reduce cancer deaths in the United States by as much as 35 percent.
Nevertheless, a large gap remains between recommended dietary patterns and what Americans actually eat. Very few Americans meet the majority of recommendations of the Food Guide Pyramid or the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Only 3 percent of all individuals meet four of the five recommendations for the intake of grains, fruits, vegetables, milk products, and meat and bean food groups. Only one-fourth of U.S. adults eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Unfortunately, poor eating habits are usually established during childhood. And more than 60 percent of young people eat too much fat, and less than 20 percent eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables.
The Food Guide Pyramid is an outline of what to eat each day, and it calls for a variety of food and nutrients. Fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and other substances that are associated with good health. Low fat diets rich in fiber-containing grain products, fruits, and vegetables may reduce the risk of heart disease and some types of cancer. Milk products provide protein, vitamins and minerals and are the best source of calcium. However, fats, oils, and sweets provide calories and little else, and should be used sparingly. Drinking enough water is also essential to keeping hydrated, converting food into energy, carrying nutrients through the body, and removing waste.
WEIGHT MANAGMENT: To prevent gradual weight gain over time, make small decreases in food and beverage calories and increase physical activity. Balance calories between the amount you eat and the amount of energy you burn. For moderately active people between the ages of 31 and 50, recommended NET calories would be 2,000 per day for women and 2,400 to 2,600 for men.
*PHYSICAL ACTIVITY*: Engage in regular physical activity and reduce sedentary activities to promote psychological well-being and a healthy body weight. Thirty minutes of exercise is the minimum. Exercise for 60 minutes to maintain weight and prevent weight gain. If you've lost weight, exercise for 60 to 90 minutes daily to keep it off.
ADEQUATE NUTRIENTS WITHIN CALORIE NEEDS: Consume a variety of nutrient-dense foods and beverages within and among the basic food groups while choosing foods that limit the intake of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, salt and alcohol.
FOOD GROUPS TO ENCOURAGE: Eat 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables per day in a 2,000-calorie diet, with higher or lower amounts depending on the calorie level; 3 or more ounce-equivalents of whole-grain products per day; three cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products.
FOOD SAFETY: Clean hands, food contact surfaces and fruits and vegetables. To avoid food-borne illness, separate raw, cooked and ready-to-eat foods while shopping, preparing or storing foods.
FATS: Limit intakes of fats and oils high in saturated and-or trans fatty acids, and choose products low in such fats and oils. Get no more than 10% of your calories from saturated fat and no more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol daily.
CARBOHYDRATES: Choose fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains often. Eat and drink little added sugar or caloric sweeteners.
SODIUM: Consume less than 2,300 mg (approximately one teaspoon of salt) of sodium per day.
ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES:Those who choose to drink alcoholic beverages should do so sensibly and in moderation; defined as the consumption of up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.