Federal government updates dietary guidelines

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This past December, the federal government updated its dietary guidelines, which will be the standard for the next five years. Cleveland Clinic registered dietician Kristin Kirkpatrick said the guidelines can help all of us make the right choices.

“They’re kind of a big deal in the sense that they help to set the structure for things like food stamps and school lunch programs and things like that. They’re also meant to give just some general guidance to Americans on what we should look at with our diet,” Kirkpatrick said.

The latest guidelines include some notable changes.

For example, added sugars should be limited to less than 10% of calories-per-day for anyone older than two years.

Saturated fat should also be limited to less than 10% per day starting at age two.

As for sodium intake, that should stay under 2300 milligrams per day.

And finally, men should have no more than two alcoholic beverages per day, while women should only have one.

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Kirkpatrick says while this is all good advice, she would have liked to have seen even stricter guidelines

“The sodium is a great suggestion to keep it under 2300mg per day, but I would have loved for them go further and talk about where sodium really lies in the American diet and that’s in ultra-processed foods. We’ve seen multiple studies come out in the past year showing that consumption of ultra-processed foods leads to weight gain and a reduction in being able to lose weight as well as an increase in chronic disease risk,” Kirkpatrick said

As far as tips go, Kirkpatrick said be sure to read the nutrition labels when shopping, which now include added sugars. She also recommends a whole foods diet consisting primarily of plants, with some animal protein added in.

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