In recent weeks, Tuesdays have been the day for “3 Reasons Why Your Body Will Love [insert some great food here].” However, since the  new USDA dietary guidelines were released yesterday, I thought I’d highlight a few of the new recommendations. How will the following recommendations make their way into your diet?

Sodium
The recommendation for sodium dropped from 2300 mg to 1500 mg per day.  That’s a drop from one teaspoon to just over half of a teaspoon.

If you pay attention to your diet for a couple days – just monitor what you eat – you’d probably be surprised at just how much sodium you eat. Excessive sodium has long since been associated with high blood pressure, among other conditions. Since high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, it’s a good idea for everyone, regardless of size or shape, to pay attention to how much salt is in the foods you eat.

Here is a breakdown of a few foods and their sodium content:

1 Apple = 1 mg
1 Cup Plain Oatmeal = 5 mg
1 Cup Brown Rice = 10 mg
1 Baked Skinless Chicken Breast = 155 mg
1 Oz Cheddar Cheese = 164 mg
1 Packet Maple and Brown Sugar Oatmeal = 261 mg
1 Cup of corn flakes  = 266 mg
1 Cup Canned Chicken Noodle Soup = 647 mg
1 Slice Cheese Pizza = 650 mg
1 McDonald’s Big Mac = 1007 mg

Needless to say, foods in general run the gamut of sodium content. Processed foods are in stark contrast to freshly prepared foods when it comes to salt. For instance, a serving of deli-cut chicken breast contains about five times as much sodium as a home baked chicken breast. Many of us think we’re eating the same food and getting the same nutritive value. Think again.

Added Sugars
A lot of processed foods – from breads to cookies to sauces and everything in between contains added sugars. We eat too much of them. Way too much. It’s hard to avoid because very few ingredient labels call anything “sugar.” The nutrition facts (the chart that displays the calories and nutrients) lists sugar simply as “sugars.”What’s constitutes ‘added sugar’ you ask? The next time you go into your kitchen pull out your loaf of bread or bottle of ketchup, see if any of these words are on the label?

  • high -fructose corn syrup
  • corn syrup
  • fruit juice concentrate
  • glucose
  • fruit juice concentrate
  • dextrose
  • molasses

Added sugars do not provide quality calories. Our bodies get nothing out of them, other than extra baggage around the waistline. Inspect your labels and become aware of what you’re really eating.

Eat Less
As a society, we eat too much food. The USDA is stepping in to tell us we should ease off the super size portions. Gradually, over the last 60 years, our portion sizes have grown wildly. Sometimes the only reason we eat something is because it’s available or it’s cheaper (99¢ Big Gulp anyone?) You deserve better than that!

Among other recommendations were:

  • drink more water (fewer sugary drinks)
  • cut back on trans fats (from 1% to .5%)
  • eat non-fat or low fat dairy
  • increase physical activity

In my humble opinion, the new guidelines are largely targeted to unhealthy populations. Since one in three children and two in three  adults are overweight or obese – that means most of us should be getting the message loud and clear over the next five years – when the next set of guidelines will be released.

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