Hello! This is Michelle, WCL’s registered dietitian, with this month’s Nutrition Minute because we want to MAKE EVERY MINUTE COUNT.
Make every bite count with the Dietary Guidelines for Senior Americans. Here’s how:
1. Follow a healthy dietary pattern at every life stage. It is never too early or too late to eat healthfully.
Follow a healthy dietary pattern across the lifespan to meet nutrient needs, help achieve a healthy body weight, and reduce the risk of chronic disease.
2. Customize and enjoy nutrient-dense food and beverage choices to reflect personal preferences, cultural traditions, and budgetary considerations.
A healthy dietary pattern can benefit all individuals regardless of age, race, or ethnicity, or current health status. The Dietary Guidelines provides a framework intended to be customized to individual needs and preferences, as well as the foodways of the diverse cultures in the United States.
3. Focus on meeting food group needs with nutrient-dense foods and beverages, and stay within calorie limits.
An underlying premise of the Dietary Guidelines is that nutritional needs should be met primarily from foods and beverages—specifically, nutrient-dense foods and beverages. Nutrient-dense foods provide vitamins, minerals, and other health-promoting components and have no or little added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium. A healthy dietary pattern consists of nutrient-dense forms of foods and beverages across all food groups, in recommended amounts, and within calorie limits.
The core elements that make up a healthy dietary pattern include:
Vegetables of all types—dark green; red and orange; beans, peas, and lentils; starchy; and other vegetables
- Fruits, especially whole fruit
- Grains, at least half of which are whole grain
- Dairy, including fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese, and/or lactose-free versions and fortified soy beverages and yogurt as alternatives
- Protein foods, including lean meats, poultry, and eggs; seafood; beans, peas, and lentils; and nuts, seeds, and soy products
- Oils, including vegetable oils and oils in food, such as seafood and nuts
4. Limit foods and beverages higher in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium, and limit alcoholic beverages.
At every life stage, meeting food group recommendations—even with nutrient-dense choices—requires most of a person’s daily calorie needs and sodium limits. A healthy dietary pattern doesn’t have much room for extra added sugars, saturated fat, or sodium—or for alcoholic beverages. A small amount of added sugars, saturated fat, or sodium can be added to nutrient-dense foods and beverages to help meet food group recommendations, but foods and beverages high in these components should be limited. Limits are:
- Added sugars—Less than 10 percent of calories per day
- Saturated fat—Less than 10 percent of calories per day
- Sodium—Less than 2,300 milligrams per day.
- Alcoholic beverages—Adults of legal drinking age can choose not to drink, or to drink in moderation by limiting intake to 2 drinks or less in a day for men and 1 drink or less in a day for women, when alcohol is consumed. Drinking less is better for health than drinking more. There are some adults who should not drink alcohol, such as pregnant women or people with certain medical conditions or taking specific medications.
Adapted from www.dietaryguidelines.gov
Michelle Elliott, RD