What’s A Healthy Diet?
The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released spanning 2015-2020. Read them yourself here. Generally the guidelines aren’t too bad – they focus on an overall healthy diet. There’s a few items I disagree with which maybe I’ll get around to writing about another time.
But today, I wanted to give some clarity to the guidelines around salt and sugar. These are two very important areas of concern when we talk about a healthy diet and the new guidelines, although clear on the recommendations, aren’t as easy to understand as I’d like.
For those of you who want to get the information and go . . . here’s a video clip with the clarity you need.
Salt & Sugar Video
For those of you who aren’t videophiles (I don’t even know if that’s a word) . . . here’s the breakdown.
The new dietary guidelines suggest no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. Unfortunately most Americans have no idea what a milligram is . . . so 2,300 mg of sodium is about 1 teaspoon of salt. According to research by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, most Americans are consuming about 3,400 mg of sodium per day. WAY too much salt!
To reduce salt overall, start my making your recipes without salt (except when baking). Then add dried or fresh herbs and spices to the recipe first – taste – then add salt to taste. Remember to taste your foods before adding salt. Another great addition instead of salt is fresh zest from citrus fruits – this packs a real flavor punch without salt.
Choose canned and frozen vegetables with no added sodium and then rinse them to reduce even more salt.
The new guidelines recommend no more than 10% of your daily calories be from added sugar. Again, most Americans have no idea how many calories they are consuming each day, let alone what 10% equals.
Plus, I recommend following the American Heart Association’s healthy diet guidelines for sugar. These are 150 calories for men or about 9 teaspoons and 100 calories for women or about 6 teaspoons. I used sugar cubes in the video to demonstrate what those healthy diet guidelines looked like. For example a can of Coke has over 10 teaspoons of sugar – that’s more than the recommendations for a man and almost double the recommended sugar consumption for a woman . . . with just one 12-oz soda! Same thing with the most popular snack cookie, Oreo’s – have about 5 1/2 teaspoons of sugar – that’s more than 1/2 the recommendations for a man and almost all of the added sugar for a woman . . . for the whole day!
Compare those snacks to the healthy diet choice of 1 cup of fresh strawberries. There’s about 1 teaspoon of sugar in a full cup and it’s naturally occurring sugar – NOT added sugar – so it doesn’t even count in the new dietary guidelines!
Healthy Diet Options
I think what the new dietary guidelines do show is that if you focus on fresh vegetables and fruits you don’t really need to worry about salt and sugar.
So, once again – a Whole Foods Diet is the best answer!