Monday, January 31, 2011

Latest USA Nutrition Guidelines Reinforce Need to Restrict Salt

I like salty foods like a good number of people, but lately have been restricting my intake. Good! Yes?

So, says the federal government.

The latest nutrition guidelines released Monday by the federal government reiterate much of the advice from previous years: eat less salt and saturated fats, eat more fruits and vegetables and whole grains.

But in perhaps the starkest terms yet, the government urged Americans to avoid sugary drinks and drink water instead, and to read food labels to pick soup, bread and frozen meals with less salt.

If there is a primary takeaway from the guidelines, it is this: Enjoy your food, but eat less.

“I like ‘enjoy your food,’ ” said Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor at New York University and a frequent critic of government nutrition advice. “I like the clarity of what to reduce.”

Among the recommendations: that anyone 51 or older, all African-Americans, children, and adults with hypertension, diabetes and chronic kidney disease should cut their salt consumption to 1,500 milligrams a day; the recommendation for everyone else is 2,300 milligrams.

In addition, the guidelines recommend consuming less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids, replacing them with so-called good fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

The guidelines suggest making fruits and vegetables half of a plate, choosing fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and eating more whole grains and seafood. The Department of Agriculture revises the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a thick booklet that lays out an ideal diet to maintain health, every five years. The panel produces a draft that is then reviewed and tweaked by government regulators and eventually made public.

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