The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans have finally been released, and although it did not present any drastic change recommendations that will bring about a 360 degree turn in diets, it includes suggestions on sustainability and the connection between the American consumption and its environmental impact.
The 500-page document was summarized by Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RDN, CDN, in an article published in Everyday Health. Taub-Dix highlighted key points and changes in the guidelines that could help Americans better understand and apply them.
Less Meat. The guidelines urge Americans to start treating meat as a side dish and making vegetables the star of the meal. This, or replace meat with fish, beans, nuts, or plant proteins. Higher vegetable intake is the goal.
Maintained Saturated Fat Levels. According to the dietary guidelines, saturated fats should not go over 10 percent of total calories. Every food label includes saturated fat content, so read the label wisely.
Drinking Water. Also included in the guidelines is the importance of drinking water, a much preferred beverage than others. Sparkling waters are also suggested, provided that the labels indicate no added sugars in the drink.
Level of Added Sugars. The guidelines note that added sugars in food or a beverage should not be more than 10 percent of total energy. Taub-Dix summarized this percentage by breaking this equation down as: "The average caloric recommendation = 2000 calories (even though that's more than many of us need). So 10% of 2000 calories = 200 calories. Then 200 calories of sugar = 50 grams of sugar (one can of cola soda has 35 grams of sugar)"
Being More Sustainable. It was the first time that the guidelines included the issue of sustainability, wherein the concern is not just about what is eaten and consumed, but also its impact to the environment- the food's source, transportation, and disposal. A diet focused on plant-based food and fish is a more sustainable option.