Seems like every woman has a question about whether her diet should include coffee, sugar, eggs or processed red meat. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans released in January have some new answers for you.
A couple of cups of coffee and no more than one drink of alcohol every day can be part of a woman’s overall healthy eating. High-cholesterol eggs and shrimp as well as high-fat nuts and avocados are okay in moderation.
Added sugar takes a serious hit. The new guidelines recommend that you hold your consumption of added sugar below 10 percent of your total daily calories. That means take a serious look at how much you load up on sodas and sugar-sweetened drinks.
Eating white bread is almost the same as eating straight sugar. Refined grains have been stripped of nutrients, and what’s left are empty calories. At least half of the grains you eat should be whole grains. Limit or lose the white rice and refined breads, cakes, cookies and pastries. Substitute whole grain goodies.
What about red meat, especially processed red meat? Processed red meats have high levels of saturated fat and salt. These foods are associated with an increased risk of heart disease and cancer. An initial recommendation to significantly cut back from the Agriculture and Health and Human Services Departments’ advisory committee was deleted from the final guidelines.
Some experts think the Ag and HHS agencies came down hard on sugar but not on processed red meat because an agriculture industry trade group did some heavy lobbying in Congress. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association strongly protested against the recommendation on red meat.
The new dietary guidelines say that what’s most important is healthy eating throughout your life. Focus on nutrients that maintain a healthy body weight and reduce your risk from chronic disease.
The traditional Mediterranean diet includes unsaturated fats that can assist in controlling weight because they cut the urge to snack between meals. Olive oil, fatty fish, avocados and nuts are associated with longer as well as healthier life.
You’ve heard it before, and you’re hearing it again in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans: eat a variety of vegetables and fruits. Your diet should include protein foods with little or no saturated fat, including eggs, shellfish, lean meat and poultry. Consume fat-free or low-fat dairy foods such as milk, yogurt and cheese. Throw in beans and peas, nuts and seeds, soy products and whole grains.
An insightful view of the guidelines and their new look at the role of total fat in weight control can be found in this Well blog from Jane E. Brody of The New York Times.