The new 2020 to 2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans are out, updated every five years. The new edition urges us to make every bite count — to think about how everything we eat and drink makes a difference.
There are five important recommendations, which probably sound familiar:
» Follow a healthy eating pattern. A healthy eating pattern and an appropriate calorie level will help you get the nutrition you need, achieve and maintain a healthy weight, and reduce your risk of chronic diseases.
» Focus on variety, nutrient density and amount. To meet your nutrient needs and stay within your calorie limit, choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods across all food groups. Nutrient-dense foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
» Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats, and cut back on sodium.
» Shift to healthier food and beverage choices. Choose nutrient-dense foods and beverages across all food groups in place of less healthy choices.
» Support healthy eating patterns for all. Everyone has a responsibility for supporting healthy eating in all settings, such as at home, work, school or wherever food is available.
So, what’s different about the new guidelines?
» Emphasis on adopting a plant-forward diet.
» Encouragement to consume less red and processed meat.
» Acknowledgement that an egg a day is OK.
» Clear-cut advice that less sugar consumption is recommended for you and your baby. For adults, added sugars should make up no more than 10 percent of daily calories (about 200 calories a day for a 2,000-calorie diet, or about 12 teaspoons of sugar for the day). And for the first time, the guidelines recommend no added sugar for children younger than age 2.
» Advice on what babies from birth to age 2 should be eating for the first time since 1985 — what to eat by life stages.
» Encouragement of physical activity, plus healthy eating, for adults ages 19-59. (Aim for 150-300 minutes of moderate physical activity weekly, plus activity that builds muscle.)
» Acknowledgment that adults 60 and older have lower caloric needs but similar or higher nutrient needs, hence the emphasis on “every bite counts.”
Q: Is corn a healthy choice, or should it be avoided because it’s a starchy vegetable?
A: Starchy vegetables — such as corn, peas, potatoes and winter squash — are packed with health-promoting fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. They have taken a bad rap because they are carbohydrates that many think spike blood glucose levels.
However, corn, like other whole grains, is rich in fiber, and fiber slows digestion, improves regularity and actually decreases the risk of blood sugar spikes.
Whole-grain corn provides a good source of fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, selenium and thiamine. Yellow corn contains more than 10 times the amount of vitamin A of other grains, along with antioxidants and carotenoids, which are associated with eye health.
The bottom line is that corn can fit into a healthy diet in the right amounts. It’s the processed corn products (like corn chips and corn syrup) that are not such good choices.
Strawberry Avocado Farro Salad
Here’s a light, wonderful lunch recipe to help you in the journey to healthy eating. It abides by the newly released dietary guidelines, and best of all, it tastes great. If you haven’t tried farro, it’s an ancient grain that’s becoming popular again with a sweet, nutty taste.
This Strawberry Avocado Farro Salad is from the California Strawberry Commission.
» 1 cup uncooked farro
» 2½ cups water or vegetable stock
» ½ pound California strawberries, hulled and sliced
» 1 ripe avocado, diced
» ½ cup fresh basil leaves
» 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
» 2 tablespoon blush or red wine vinegar
» 2 tablespoon olive oil
» 1½ teaspoon honey
» Pinch sea salt
» Pinch freshly cracked black pepper
In a medium saucepan, bring water or stock to a boil. Add farro, and simmer, covered, 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat, and drain any remaining liquid. Let farro cool completely. Add cooled farro to a large bowl with sliced California strawberries, diced avocado, basil leaves and crumbled goat cheese.
In a small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients (vinegar through pepper). Pour over farro salad. Gently toss to coat. Serve or refrigerate until ready to serve.
Servings: 4 (2 cups each)
Per serving: 326 calories; 10 grams protein; 40 grams carbohydrates; 16 grams fat (4 grams saturated); 18 milligrams cholesterol (5 grams sugar); 7 grams fiber; 245 milligrams sodium
— Charlyn Fargo Ware is a registered dietitian with SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, Illinois. Contact her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter: @NutritionRd, or click here for additional columns. The opinions expressed are her own.