Assessing the new U.S. dietary guidelines

2 min read

U.S. government officials released the new 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) on Jan. 7, 2016. Nutrition expert Frank Hu, who served on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee — which made recommendations on what should be included in the guidelines — assesses the new advice on how the nation should eat.

What are the most significant changes between the new dietary guidelines and the previous ones?

One of the most positive changes is the recommendation that no more than 10 percent of daily calories come from added sugars. This is the first time that the DGAs set an upper limit for added sugar intake. This change has an important implication for the FDA’s decision to include the amount of “added sugars” and its percent daily value (%DV) in the upcoming revised Nutrition Facts label; currently the label lists only “sugars.”

Another important positive change is the removal of an upper limit for total dietary fat, and a greater emphasis on consuming certain types of fat. The guidelines recommend a limit of 10 percent of daily calories for saturated fat, and that saturated fat be replaced with unsaturated and especially polyunsaturated fat. It basically says that we should eat a low saturated fat diet rather than simply a low-fat diet.

The report also acknowledges that moderate coffee consumption (three to five eight-ounce cups per day) can be incorporated into a healthy diet — although not with too much sugar and cream.