Keep it 100: How many servings of fruits and vegetables are you really eating every day?
If it’s not a lot, you’re not alone, says the USDA and Department of Health and Human Services. But they want that to change—and change now.
To help start facilitate this shift, the government agency recently handed down their new eating guidelines urging Americans to eat way less sugar and more of a plant-based diet to combat the obesity and chronic illness epidemic wreaking havoc on too many of us.
In addition, while they found that we are getting enough protein (mostly from meat), they want us to seriously slash our sodium and saturated fat intake (which can cause high blood pressure and heart disease) and or the first time, the USDA is recommending that we restrict added sugar to “10 percent or less of our calories,” NBC News notes.
OK, but what does actually mean and what does a healthier diet look like?
According to the USDA, regardless of which mode of eating you choose—typical American diet, Mediterranean-style diet and a vegetarian diet—this is what eating better consists of:
- A variety of vegetables: dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy and other vegetables. (Think: kale, red peppers, yams, spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower.)
- Fruits, especially whole fruit, with skin if possible, since that’s where most of the fiber lives.
- More whole grains, so this means try cutting out white flour products.
- Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages. So, kiss that whole milk goodbye.
- A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes such as beans and peas, soy products, and nuts and seeds.
- Oils from plants such as canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, and sunflower oils and avocados.
This may seem overwhelming, especially for those who are used to frozen meals, sweet tea and take-out, but Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell reassures Americans that they, “want to make things easier and simpler for consumers…[by] steering people to…small changes.” Translation: Baby steps.
Not everyone is happy with these recommendations though. Some nutrition experts believe that the USDA didn’t go hard enough with their recommendations and weren’t explicit in their messaging to “eat less fast food, red meat and junk food and drink less soda,” CBS points out.
What do you think? Will you start incorporating these suggestions into the way you eat?