What are the Dietary Guidelines for Americans?
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are seven basic principals for developing and maintaining a healthier diet. The Guidelines represent the best thinking in the field of nutrition and health and are the basis for all Federal nutrition information and education programs for healthy Americans. They were developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
GETTING A START - PREPARING FOODPreparing foods in the Dietary Guidelines style doesn't mean eliminating all fat, sugars(refers to granulated sugar and other sweeteners such as syrups,honey, and molasses), and sodium - it just means avoiding too much. Balance is the key! Balance the foods that tend to be high in fat, sugars, or sodium with other foods that contain less of these components. If you tend to prepare foods that are high in fat, sugars, or sodium, gradually begin to reduce the amounts of these items added to your foods. By using a few simple techniques in you food preparation routine, you can -
If you've decided to cut back on fat, sugars, and sodium in your diet, using less of these items in food preparation is one important way to reach your goal. Before you read on, test yourself.
Take a look at the list below.
Think about how you can reduce the fat, sugars, or sodium content of any of these foods by using another food preparation method. Put an "X" in the "fat" box if the fat content can be reduced with a different preparation method. If the sugars or sodium content can be lowered, put an "X" in those boxes as well. To find out how well your ideas matched the experts' for answers.
DISCOVERING A NEW STYLE FOR OLD STAPLES
Breads, Cereals, and Other Grain Products
Boost the starch and fiber in your meals with breads, cereals, rice, and pasts. From pancakes to pasta, these lowfat foods can be part of Guidelines-style meals - from appetizers to desserts. Vary the taste and texture by choosing among whole-wheat, oatmeal, pumpernickel, rye, and cornmeal products. Here are some ideas for including breads and cereals without overdoing the fat, sugars, or sodium.
Tips For Home Baking
Home Baking Guidelines Style
Sugars and fat affect tenderness and volume of baked products. Sugars also contribute flavor. Balance of ingredients is important. However, you can often use less sugars and fat and still have a good-quality product.
Sodium is a part of salt and most leavening agents (baking powder and baking soda). You can usually reduce the amount of these ingredients and still have a good quality product. Follow these tips -
Rice and Pasta Pointers
BRINGING OUT THE TASTE AND TEXTURE
Focus on versatile vegetables - cooked or raw - for a nutritious, colorful, and flavorful addition to Guidelines-style meals and snacks. Vegetables are naturally low in calories, fat, and sodium, and good sources of important vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. Let the natural flavor of vegetables come through. Use less butter, margarine, salad dressing, honey, salt, and soy sauce to keep down the extra calories, fat, sugars, and sodium.
Tips For Preparing Vegetables
Did You Know?
Contrary to popular belief, starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn, green peas, and dry beans, are not high in calories. But calories mount up quickly when vegetables are fried or when sweet or fatty sauces and seasonings are added.
Cooked or canned dry beans and peas are good as vegetables and salads, as well as in main dishes. For example -
Greens Cooked Southern-Style
Do you like greens (turnip, mustard, kale, or collards) cooked with bacon or ham? For less fat, but still the flavor, make meat broth ahead of time and refrigerate to chill. The fat will come to the top and can be easily removed. Use this fat-free broth for cooking greens. (Keep broth no longer than 1 to 2 days in refrigerator. For longer storage, freeze.)
Microwaving cooks foods faster than most other methods. You don't need to add fat to meat, poultry, or fish, and you use little water for vegetables. Micro-cooking is an excellent way to retain vitamins and color in vegetables. Follow the manufacturer's directions for best results.
Steaming is a good method for cooking vegetables without using fat. Try this method for frozen and fresh vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, carrots, spinach, and summer squash. Use a vegetable steamer or colander to hold vegetables. Place steamer in pot with a little boiling water and cover. Cook until the vegetables are just tender to preserve color and vitamins.
Braising is used mainly for meats that need longer cooking times to become tender. Root vegetables are also good braised. Brown meat first in small amount of oil or its own fat. Then simmer in a covered pan with a little liquid; try using meat or poultry broth, cider, wine, or a combination of these for added flavor.
Roasting foods on a rack or a spit over coals is a fun, lower fat way to prepare meat, poultry, fish, and even vegetables. Barbecuing gives a distinctive smoked flavor to foods. Trim fat from meat to prevent flareup of flames and to reduce calories. If seasoning food with a sauce, try one with less salt, sugars, and fat.
Broiling is a quick way of cooking foods under direct heat without added fat. It's great for poultry, fish, and tender cuts of meat. Use a broiling pan or rack set in a shallow pan to allow fat to drain away. If basting, use lemon juice, fruit juice, or broth for flavor. Vegetables like onions, zucchini, and tomatoes can also be broiled.
Quick and easy, stirfrying requires relatively little fat and preserves the crisp texture and bright color of vegetables. Heat wok or heavy skillet, add just enough oil to lightly coat bottom of pan, add food, and stir constantly while cooking. Start with thin strips or diced portions of meat, poultry, or fish. When meat is almost done, add small pieces of vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, sprouts, carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, or green onions.
ROAST OR BAKE
Roasting takes somewhat longer than other methods, but requires little work on your part. Poultry and tender cuts of meat may be roasted. Cook in oven, uncovered on a rack in shallow roasting pan to drain fat and allow heat to circulate around meat. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squashes, and onions can be baked. Simply wash, prick skins, and place vegetables on a baking sheet in oven.
BOIL OR STEW
Foods are cooked in hot liquids in these lowfat, low-salt methods. The liquid left after cooking can become a tasty broth or base of a sauce; chill liquid first and remove any fat that rises to the top. Starchy or root vegetables such as potatoes, corn-on-the-cob, lima beans, and turnips are often boiled.
Tough cuts of meat can be tenderized by simmering in liquid for several hours. (Simmering is a slow boil in which bubbles rise gently to the surface and barely break.) Add vegetables and herbs for an aromatic blend of flavors without salt.
Discovering the Benefits of PLANNING MENUS
Many people would say they don't plan menus - at least they don't write them down in advance. But everyone plans, if only for how to stock the refrigerator.
"Planning menus" means thinking about what foods to eat together for a meal, a day, or a week. Food choices are influenced by habit, by the occasion, by time and food available, and by what you feel like eating, as well as by your concern for nutrition. The information here describes the advantages of menu planning and illustrates how to create menus in the Dietary Guidelines style without sacrificing convenience or taste.
There are many advantages to planning meals, and you don't need to be locked into a rigid schedule. Planning ahead -
Planning For Variety
Variety and balance are the keys to planning menus in the Guidelines style. Each day's menus should include foods from the five major food groups - breads, cereals, and grain products; fruits; vegetables; meats, poultry, fish, and alternates; and milk, cheese, and yogurt. Foods in these groups provide the protein, vitamins, minerals, starch, and dietary fiber you need. Go easy on foods in the sixth food group - fats, sweets, and alcoholic beverages; these mainly supply calories and few vitamins and minerals.
Also vary your choices of foods within each group because specific foods differ in the kinds and amounts of nutrients they provide. For example, include in a week's menu red meats (like beef and pork), poultry, and fish. Pick different breads, fruits, and vegetables as well - especially dark-green leafy vegetables, dry beans and peas, and whole-grain breads and cereals, foods that provide dietary fiber and nutrients that are low in many diets.
The Pattern for Daily Food Choices shows you the types of food to include in your daily menus. How much you serve depends on your own calorie needs and those of your family members.
The pattern suggests ranges of daily servings from most groups - three to five servings of vegetables, for example. To make sure you get the nutrients and fiber you need, plan your menus to include at least the lower number of servings from each food group each day. People with lower calorie needs will need only the lower number of servings. They'll also have to be careful about choosing small portions and lower calorie foods within each group. Young children may not need as much food, so they can have smaller amounts from all groups except milk. Other people will need more food than the lower number of servings to meet their calorie needs. These people can eat larger portions and include additional foods from the first five food groups.
NOTE: Individuals who do not eat one or more of the types of foods listed here may wish to contact a dietitian in their community for help in planning food choices.
DID YOU KNOW? In spite of the trend to increased eating out, surveys show that people get about 70 percent of their calories from foods eaten at home or packed in bag lunches. Keeping nutritious, easy-to-prepare foods on hand for quick meals and snacks can help assure your family a healthful diet.
MAKING THE MENU FIT THE FAMILYNutrient and calorie needs vary from person to person, depending on age, sex, body size, and activity level. But even if your household contains people with different needs, you usually don't have to plan different menus for each person.
First, plan your daily menus to include at least the lower number of servings of foods from each group.. Pick foods from all subgroups regularly. Then, adjust your menus for family members who need different amounts of food:
Here are some other tips for planning for different family members.
Looking Out For Extras
Most people like to add extras like jam, butter, margarine, or salad dressings to their food at the table. Many enjoy desserts, sweet or salty snacks, or an occasional glass of beer or wine. But these foods can quickly add up to too much fat, sugars, sodium, and alcohol. To fit these foods into your menus -
Try dessert and snack recipes that are lower in fat, sugars, and sodium. Milk and grain-based desserts and snacks, such as ice cream and cookies, can provide some important nutrients. Balance the extra fat and sugars in these treats by cutting back on fat and sugars elsewhere in your menu.
Focusing On Fiber
Fiber is important in the diet to help keep the digestive tract healthy. Good sources of fiber include whole-grain breads and cereals, dry beans and peas, and fruits and vegetables, especially those with edible peels and seeds (such as berries, cucumbers, and summer squash). Menus that contain the amounts of these foods suggested in the Pattern for Daily Food Choices will provide a good supply of dietary fiber. There is no reason to take fiber supplements or to add fiber to foods that do not already contain it.
Getting The Most From Dry Beans and Peas
Dry beans and peas fit two food groups! Because they are high in protein and high in many of the vitamins and minerals provided by meats, they serve as meat alternates. But like starchy vegetables, dry beans and peas are higher in carbohydrates and fiber and low in fat. These versatile vegetables are good in salads, soups, side dishes, even dips for snacks. You can cook them yourself or buy them already cooked and canned. Try kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, chick-peas, split peas, lentils, and so forth. Look for ways to frequently include these and other dry beans and peas -as vegetables or meat alternates - in your menus.
Did You Know? Snacking is increasing. In a recent USDA survey of what food people ate for 1 day, 75 percent of women reported snacking, up from 60 percent in 1977. It's a good idea to plan snacks for everyone - snacks that taste good and are good for you.
AVOID TOO MUCH...A healthful diet is moderate in fat, sugars, and sodium. But moderation does not mean no-fat, no-sugar, no-sodium, no-fun meals! The point is to avoid too much fat, sugars, and sodium in your TOTAL DIET, not in a single food item or in a single meal. With a little planning, any food can fit into a moderate, healthful diet!
Fat is the most concentrated source of food energy (calories). Each gram of fat supplies about 9 calories, compared with about 4 calories per gram of protein or carbohydrates and 7 calories per gram of alcohol. In addition to providing energy, fat aids in the absorption of certain vitamins. Some fats provide linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid which is needed by everyone in small amounts.
Eating a diet high in fat - especially saturated fatty acids and cholesterol - causes elevated blood cholesterol levels in many people, increasing their risk of heart disease. Most nutrition authorities recommend that the U.S. population as a whole reduce daily consumption of fat. Americans eat about 37 percent of total calories as fat. Many authorities have suggested it is best to limit fat to no more than 30 to 35 percent of total calories.
The amount of fat that can be included in your daily menus depends on the calorie level. For reference, the table below shows the amounts of fat that represent 30 to 35 percent of calories in diets at different calorie levels.
In A Diet With The Grams of Fat Shown Provide...SUGAR
"Sugar" means more than just the familiar white table sugar. In the Dietary Guidelines, sugar refers to all caloric sweeterners - table sugar, brown sugar, corn sweeteners, syrups, honey, molasses - that are added to foods. These sugars provide mainly calories with few vitamins and minerals, and people who need fewer calories should be especially careful to avoid too much. Sugars also occur naturally in fruits, vegetables, and milk - foods that are important sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Remember though, all types of sugars, both natural and refined, can promote tooth decay, especially if eaten frequently or in sticky forms that stay on the teeth.
Sugars are added to foods both in processing and at the table. Because "added" sugars provide calories but few nutrients, the amount of added sugars that might be included in your menus depends on calorie level. For example, the 1,600 calorie menus [to follow later in the text - to be added by scanner] provide an average of 9 teaspoons of added sugars, whereas the 2,500 calories menus provide an average of 18 teaspoons.
Artificial sweeteners are commonly used in some products to provide sweetness without unwanted calories. Their safety is continuously under review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is not necessary to use artificial sweeteners to avoid too much sugar in your diet.
Sodium is a mineral required to maintain body fluids and proper nerve functioning. However, most Americans consume more sodium than they need. In some people, excessive intakes of sodium contribute to high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. The National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that a "safe and adequate" range of sodium per day is about 1,100 to 3,300 milligrams for adults. Most sodium in the American diet comes from table salt (sodium chloride) that is added to foods in processing, preparation, or at the table. One teaspoon of salt contains about 2,000 milligrams of sodium.
Planning For Moderation
It's not necessary to count grams and milligrams to avoid too much fat, sugars, or sodium. To plan menus that are moderate in these:
A Quick Look...At Fat, Sodium, and Added Sugars In Foods (Values are averages for typical foods in each category. Individual products vary)
MORE ABOUT FAT AND CHOLESTEROL
Fatty acids are the basic chemical units in fat. They may be either Saturated, Monounsaturated, or Polyunsaturated. These fatty acids differ in the amount of hydrogen they contain. Saturated fatty acids contain the most hydrogen and polyunsaturated the least. Saturated fatty acids tend to raise the blood cholesterol level in many people. Thus some health authorities suggest limiting intake of saturated fatty acids to about a third of total fat.
All dietary fats are made up of mixtures of these three types of fatty acids.
CHOLESTEROL is a fat-like substance found in all foods of animal origin: egg yolks, meat, poultry, fish, milk, and milk products. It is not found in foods of plant origin. Both the lean and fat of meat and the meat and skin of poultry contain cholesterol. In milk products, cholesterol is mostly in the fat, so lower fat products contain less cholesterol. Egg yolk and organ meats are the main sources of cholesterol in most diets - one egg yolk contains about 10 times as much cholesterol as one ounce of meat, poultry, or fish.
Tips for Moderating Saturated Fat and Cholesterol
Eating too much saturated fat and cholesterol, as well as excess calories, raises blood cholesterol levels in many people.
High blood cholesterol levels increase the risk of heart disease. If you or a family member have a high blood cholesterol level, you will need to pay special attention to the saturated fat and cholesterol in the foods you eat. Follow your doctor's or dietitian's advice. For others, here are some general guides to moderating saturated fat and cholesterol in your meals.
MAKING MENUS PRACTICAL
Plan ahead to help control food costs:
The time you have to prepare a meal is a major factor in deciding what foods to serve. Consider these time-saving ideas:
Planning For Taste
Food habits develop over a long period of time and can be hard to change. Menus in the Dietary Guidelines style may include a greater variety of foods and less fat, sugars, and sodium than you are used to. Plan menus that will help you and your family adjust:
CHECKLIST FOR HEALTHY MENUSIf you write out your menus, select several to help you answer the questions below. If you don't, write down some typical menus for your family. Include foods you eat out. Then answer the following questions:
1. Does a day's menu provide at least the lower number of servings from each of the major food groups shown below:
2. Do the menus have several servings of whole-grain breads or cereals each day? Yes No
3. Do menus for a week include several servings of:
Dark-Green leafy vegetables
(spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce)? Yes No
4. Do menus include some vegetables and fruits with skins and seeds (baked potatoes with skin, summer squash, berries, apples, or pears with peels)? Yes No
5. Underline all of the foods in your menus that are high in fat, sugars, or sodium.
Are other foods that are served with them lower in fat, sugars, or sodium, so that total intake is moderate? Yes No
Are other meals on the same day lower in fat, sugars, or sodium, so that total intake is moderate? Yes No
6. Are the menus practical for you in time, cost, and family acceptance? Yes No
Tips For Easy Menu Planning
Planning Meals For One Person
A little planning can go a long way toward making meals for one person nutritious and interesting. Try some of these ideas to make meals for one fun and easy:
FRUITS - SERVING NATURAL SWEETSLow in fat and sodium and high in certain vitamins and minerals, fruits fit right into the Guidelines style. Naturally sweet, they make especially satisfying desserts and snacks. Or, take advantage of their great variety in flavor, color, and texture to perk up vegetables and salads and to flavor or garnish simply prepared meats and poultry.
Tips On Using Fruits
For a fun dessert, put a whole ripe banana on a cookie sheet (leave the peel on) and bake at 350F for 20 minutes. Split baked fruit with knife; sprinkle with cinnamon or nutmeg.
Did You Know? Calories add up when sugar or syrup is used with fruit. For example, a half-cup serving of fresh unsweetened peaches contains only 36 calories, while a half-cup of peaches canned in heavy syrup contains 95 calories, and a half-cup of frozen sweetened peaches contains 118 calories.
Serve plain lowfat yogurt, garnished with lime "twists" as an elegant dressing for fruit salad.
Milk, Cheese, and Yogurt
Keeping Calcium With Less Fat
Get the calcium you need by including milk, cheese, and yogurt in your diet. These products are found in many forms, many of which have less calories, fat, sugars, and sodium. Here are tips on how to use these foods in Guidelines-style meals.
Tips for using Milk, Cheese, and Yogurt
For cheese and yogurt...
Did You Know? Sauces add flavor and moisture to a variety of foods such as casseroles. A tablespoon of a typical medium white sauce made with whole milk provides about 25 calories and about 2 grams of fat. To cut fat in a tablespoon of sauce to about 1 gram and the calories to about 15, use skim instead of whole milk, and use only 1 tablespoon margarine for each 2 tablespoons flour.
Meat, Poultry, Fish, and More...LIGHTENING UP THE MAIN COURSE
Meat, poultry, and fish are traditional American favorites - and important sources of essential minerals such as iron and zinc, as well as protein. Dry beans and peas, nuts, and eggs provide many of the same nutrients and can be used in place of meat occasionally. Here are suggestions on how to get these important nutrients with less calories, fat, and sodium.
Did You Know?
A Flavor Tip
A marinade enhances flavor and increases tenderness of meat and poultry. To marinate, let food stand in a seasoned liquid in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. Use a marinade that contains little or no oil or sugar, and reduce salt if salt is an ingredient. For a start, try marinating a pound of round steak in a mixture of 2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar and 1/4 cup orange juice seasoned with 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 cup sliced onion. You can also use the remaining marinade to baste the round steak as it cooks. Discard marinade after use. Do not save to use another time. Marinades in which uncooked meat has stood can spoil quickly.
Tips for Preparing Meat, Poultry, Fish, and Alternates
In preparing sauces and toppings...
Beef and Vegatable Stirfry - 4 servings, about 3/4 cup each
Beef round steak, boneless 3/4 pound (12 ounces)
1. Trim all fat from steak. Slice steak across the grain into thin strips about 1/8 inch wide and 3 inches long. (Partially frozen meat is easier to slice.)
2. Heat oil in frypan. Add beef strips and stirfry over high heat, turning pieces constantly, until beef is no longer red - about 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat.
3. Add carrots, celery, onion, and seasonings. Cover and cook until carrots are slightly tender - 3 to 4 minutes.
4. Add squash; cook until vegetables are tender-crisp - 3 to 4 minutes.
5. Mix cornstarch and water until smooth. Add slowly to beef mixture, stirring constantly.
6. Cook until thickened and vegetables are coated with a thin glaze.
Variation: Chicken and Vegetable Stirfry
Use 3 chicken breast halves without bone or skin (about 12 ounces or raw chicken) in place of beef. Slice into thin strips. Chicken should be cooked until thoroughly done or no longer pink in color.
Enchilada Casserole - 4 pieces, 4 by 4 inches each
Onion, chopped 1/2 cup
No-Salt-Added tomato puree 1 1/2 cups
Monterey Jack cheese, shredded 1/4 cup
1. Preheat oven to 350F (moderate)
2. Cook onion, green pepper, and celery in boiling water until tender. Drain liquid if necessary.
3. Add chicken, beans, and 1/2 cup of tomato puree. Mix gently.
4. Mix all sauce ingredients together thoroughly.
5. In an 8- by 8- by 2-inch baking pan, place four tortillas, one-half of the filling mixture, and one-fourth of the sauce. Add remaining filling mixture and another one-fourth of the sauce. Cover with four tortillas and remaining sauce.
6. Sprinkle cheese over top.
7. Bake until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly - about 30 minutes.
NOTE: Cheese, corn tortillas, and canned beans contain salt, so no salt is added to the filling and only a little to the sauce.
Apple-Grape Salad - 4 servings, about 1/2 cup each
Unflavored gelatin l envelope (about 1 tablespoon)
1. Soften gelatin in water for 5 minutes. Heat gelatin over low heat, stirring constantly, until dissolved.
2. Add apple juice. Chill until mixture begins to thicken.
3. Stir in fruit and celery
4. Pour in fruit and celery
5. Chill until set
Stuffed Baked Potato - 4 servings, 1 potato each
Baking potatoes, about 1/2 pound each 4
1. Preheat oven to 425F (hot)
2. Wash and dry potatoes. Prick skins with a fork. Bake potatoes until tender - 50 to 60 minutes. (Potatoes may be baked in a microwave oven. Use the directions that came with your oven.)
3. Beat cottage cheese until smooth.
4. Slice tops off potatoes; scoop out insides of potatoes and add to cottage cheese. Add milk and seasonings; beat until well blended.
5. Stuff potato skins with potato-cheese mixture. Sprinkle with paprika.
6. Return potatoes to oven. Bake about 10 minutes or until heated and tops are lightly browned.
NOTES: Since cottage cheese contains salt, there's no need to add more salt to the recipe.
Fresh chives may be used in place of dried chives.
Broiled Sesame Fish - 4 servings, about 2 1/2 ounces each
Cod fillets, fresh or frozen 1 pound
1. Thaw frozen fish in refrigerator overnight or defrost briefly in a microwave oven. Cut fish into 4 portions.
2. Place fish on a broiler pan lined with aluminum foil. Brush margarine over fish.
3. Mix lemon juice, tarragon leaves, salt, and pepper. Pour over fish.
4. Sprinkle sesame seeds evenly over fish.
5. Broil until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork - about 12 minutes.
6. Garnish each serving with parsley.
Rice-Pasta Pilaf - 4 servings, about 1/2 cup each
Uncooked brown rice 1/3 cup
1. Cook rice in 1 cup of the broth in a covered saucepan until almost tender - about 35 minutes.
2. Cook spaghetti in margarine over low heat until golden brown - about 2 minutes. Stir frequently; watch carefully.
3. Add browned spaghetti, vegetables, remaining 1/2 cup of chicken broth, and seasonings to rice.
4. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover, and cook over medium heat until liquid is absorbed - about 10 minutes.
5. Remove from heat; let stand 2 minutes.
6. Garnish with almonds.
NOTES: Toast almonds in 350F (Moderate) oven until lightly browned - 5 to 12 minutes. Or, toast in heavy pan over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
If served without almonds, the pilaf has 125 calories and 3 grams total fat per serving.