AgCenter: New dietary guidelines focus on eating
BATON ROUGE — The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have recently released new dietary guidelines to help Americans eat healthier diets. Denise Holston-West, a registered dietitian with the LSU AgCenter, said the goal is for Americans to improve their overall eating patterns.
“We know the sum is greater than all of its parts, so we really need to look more at the overall dietary pattern rather than specific food groups or specific nutrients,” Holston-West said.
The dietitian said the guidelines remove previous restrictions on cholesterol but limit intake of sugars, saturated fat and sodium.
“The recommendations limit added sugars to 10 percent of total calories and the same thing with saturated fat, limiting them to 10 percent of our total calories,” she said.
The recommendation for sodium is to consume fewer than 2,300 milligrams per day.
Holston-West said strategies for limiting sodium include eating out less and eating fewer packaged meals. Individuals can reduce sugar intake by drinking water instead of soda or flavored water. Eating more vegetables and fruit can help limit overconsumption of saturated fat, which is mainly found in animal products.
The dietitian said heeding the guidelines is important for the health of Americans.
“More than half of adult Americans have a nutrition-related chronic disease such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes or hypertension,” Holston-West said.
The LSU AgCenter has several programs across the state to help entire communities improve their health profile. Holston-West said different parishes have different needs, but these guidelines can help reach those needs.
“Our part here is working with the community to identify what their assets, barriers and challenges are and come up with plans for that community to be successful in improving health through better eating patterns,” she said.
Dietary guidelines are revised every five years and serve as the foundation for nutrition policies and programs across the United States.