Good news, egg lovers! If your cholesterol levels are in the healthy range, your favorite breakfast food is no longer something to eat sparingly and without its yolk. Just go easy on the ketchup and salt and save the bacon for special occasions – these are full of sodium and added sugars that should be consumed in moderation.
That’s the advice from the recently updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the basis of nutritional policy in the United States. Jointly produced every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Guidelines aim to encourage Americans to adopt eating habits that promote a healthy weight and prevent type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. These chronic conditions are mostly diet-related and about half of all adult Americans have at least one. You can read the complete 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans here.
“When it comes to staying healthy, what you eat can be just as important as how much,” says LHSFNA Management Co-Chairman Noel C. Borck. “The Dietary Guidelines are a roadmap not only for choosing healthy foods but also for how they should be eaten.”
Changes made in the new Guidelines reflect the latest science-based evidence on nutrition. One big difference from previous editions: The recommendation to limit consumption of high cholesterol foods has been lifted. Nutritionists now say it’s the mix of fats and carbohydrates in your diet that affects cholesterol levels in your blood, not the amount of cholesterol found in food. That’s why most people can enjoy those eggs and other high cholesterol foods like shrimp, pork chops and turkey drumsticks.
However, what truly sets the new guidelines apart is the focus on developing healthy eating patterns rather than consuming individual foods. The Healthy Mediterranean-Style Pattern contains more fruits and seafood and less dairy than the Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern, which suggests certain foods from the basic food groups. The Healthy Vegetarian Eating Pattern includes more legumes (beans and peas), soy products, nuts and seeds and whole grains.
While these patterns are affected by a person’s taste preferences, traditions, culture and budget, all should include:
- Lots of fruits and vegetables in different colors, legumes and starches like corn and potatoes
- Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
- Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese and/or fortified soy beverages
- A variety of protein foods including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, soy products, nuts and seeds
- Oils, including those from plants: canola, corn, olive, safflower, soybean and sunflower, and from nuts, seeds, seafood, olives and avocados
Americans are also encouraged to consume:
- Less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars (sugars added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared). ChooseMyPlate.gov provides more information.
- Less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats. Use the Nutrition Facts label to check for saturated fat content. Foods high in saturated fat include butter, whole milk, meats that are not labeled as lean and tropical oils such as coconut and palm oil.
- Less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium. Use the Nutrition Facts label to check for sodium content. Foods high in sodium include processed foods like pizza, pasta dishes, sauces and soups.
“Protecting the health of the American public includes empowering them with the tools they need to make healthy choices in their daily lives,” explained Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia M. Burwell. “By focusing on small shifts in what we eat and drink, eating healthy becomes more manageable.”
The LHSFNA’s Nutrition and Fitness for Laborers program helps Laborers improve dietary and exercise habits. The Becoming Physically Active and Weight Matterspamphlets offer additional information. Order these materials through the Fund’s online Publications Catalogue or call 202-628-5465.
[Janet Lubman Rathner]