The key modifications to the new dietary guidelines are the limits to the amount of added sugar and the release of the restrictions on cholesterol. Most of the other guidelines are the same or very similar to the former guidelines.

Sugar

First off: Where is the sugar from our diets coming from? If you look at the chart below, you’ll see that it mainly comes from snacks, sweets, and beverages.

Try switching to snacks with little or no added sugar, such as Oikos Triple Zero yogurt topped with fresh berries. Instead of soda and fruit drinks, opt for lemon water, low-fat or fat-free milk or green tea. Another one to try is sparkling water with a splash of 100% juice. This is the first time the government has put a restriction on added sugar, which is 10% of our total calories or less. Following a 2000-calorie diet, that would mean 50 grams or 12 ½ teaspoons.

The American Heart Association rule of thumb is no more than 6 teaspoons for women and no more than 9 teaspoons for men.

Health.gov Figure 2-10.Food Category Sources of Added Sugars in the U.S. Population Ages 2 Years and Older

Cholesterol

Cholesterol is not the bad guy when looking at food content. The government is finally catching up with the science that dietary cholesterol does not influence blood or serum cholesterol. Our liver produces about 75% of the cholesterol in our bodies. The human body is amazing as it regulates the amount of cholesterol in the blood by controlling production. When we do not eat a lot of cholesterol, our body makes more of it. Likewise, when we eat a lot of cholesterol, our body makes less. It is saturated fat that we need to watch out for.

Saturated Fat

Saturated fat is usually higher in foods that contain cholesterol, such as burgers, steak, cheese, ice cream and fried foods. It is still important to limit those foods since a diet high in saturated fat leads to high cholesterol and inflammation.  On the other hand, eggs (2-3) and seafood (4 oz.) are lower in saturated fat and are okay in moderation (like every other food). Where is the saturated fat from our diets coming from? Mainly mixed dishes (pizza, burgers, etc.), snacks and sweets.

The recommendation is to keep saturated fat to less than 10% of our total calories. Are you going out to eat a lot? Usually ordering the fatty burgers or pizza loaded with cheese? Try limiting the times you are going out and make more home-cooked meals made with healthy oils.

Health.gov Figure 2-12.Food Category Sources of Saturated Fats in the U.S. Population Ages 2 Years and Older

Start Small, But Start Today

Cutting back on sugar and saturated fat can be challenging. Small steps are the most important. Look at your typical menu and see if there are some little changes you can take. Taking away one can of soda OR 2 fun-size Milky Way bars a day can help you lose up to 15 pounds of fat in one year! (150 calories x 7 days x 52 weeks = 54,600 calories / 3,500 calories per pound = ~15 lbs)

This post was originally published on The Friendly Minnesotan Dietitian by Kelly Weiss.

What You Need to Know: Changes to Dietary Guidelines

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