MARIANNE CARTER, SPECIAL TO THE NEWS JOURNAL 12:02 a.m. EST January 18, 2016


Www.choosemyplate.gov is part of the new dietary guidelines for Americans.(Photo: www.choosemyplate.gov)



The U.S. Government has just released its 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Theyre science-based recommendations that focus on disease prevention.

Unhealthy eating habits are linked with an increased risk for developing chronic diseases like obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and certain forms of cancer.

Its prudent to do all we can to prevent these illnesses, rather than treat them after the fact. Healthy eating is one of the most powerful tools we have to reduce the onset of disease.

The new Dietary Guidelines recommend eating more of some foods and nutrients and less of others over a lifetime.

Heres what we need to be eating more of:

Vegetables, including dark greens, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy vegetables and others

Fruits, especially whole fruits

Grains, 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, legumes (beans and peas), soy products, and nuts and seeds

Oils, including those from plants: canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, and sunflower. (Oils also are naturally present in nuts, seeds, seafood, olives and avocados.)

Heres what we need to limit:

Consume less than 10 percent of your calories per day from added sugars

Consume less than 10 percent of your calories per day from saturated fats

Consume less than 2,300 milligrams per day of sodium

Consume as little dietary cholesterol as possible

If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.

If your diet is in need of a total make-over, strive for small changes rather than a total overhaul. Small changes can add up; the chance that you will sustain those changes over time is also increased.

Following are some practical ideas and tips to get you started toward a healthier eating pattern:

Rethink your drink. Replace sugary beverages such as soda, lemonade, sweet tea and fruit punch with water. Water will keep you hydrated without all of that added sugar.

Sodium is found naturally in our food supply; we dont need to add it to food to meet our needs.

Educate yourself about the sodium content of foods by looking at the Nutrition Facts Panel on the label. Youll quickly learn that items like canned soup, frozen convenience meals, sauces and processed meats contain excessive amounts. Staying below 2,300 mg. per day is impossible if you rely heavily on these high-sodium items.

Limit how often you consume high-sodium fast foods and restaurant meals. You can control the sodium content of food when you prepare meals at home.

To reduce your intake of saturated fats (generally solid at room temperature), limit your intake of butter, whole milk, meats that are not labeled as lean, and tropical oils such as coconut and palm oil.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines also reminds adults to include at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week and to perform muscle strengthening exercises at least twice a week.

For individualized dietary guidance, consult a registered dietitian/nutritionist. Ask your healthcare provider for a referral or visit www.eatright.org to locate one in your area.

Marianne Carter is a registered dietitian and certified health educator. Shes the director of the Delaware Center for Health Promotion at Delaware State University.

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