WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- March is National Nutrition Month and the theme is to take a bite out of a healthy lifestyle. New dietary guidelines out later this year could help you do that.
UnityPoint Des Moines Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Carrie Leiran said, "We need to look at the dietary guidelines and using those as kind of a balance in our lifestyle."
Every five years, a federal Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee comes out with new recommendations to help Americans eat a balanced diet. Leiran said, "This year, more so than past years, they've really looked deeper into their research."
One of the proposed recommendations goes against past thoughts about cholesterol in food and could affect what you eat for breakfast. Leiran said, "They're suggesting that eggs are ok. That cholesterol is alright, foods that have cholesterol in them."
The recommendation goes along with the American Heart Association's current advice of eating an egg a day. While eggs may now get the green light, sugar does not. Leiran said, "They want to bring sugar down to 10 percent of your total calories that you need a day."
That would be 200 calories of added sugar a day, if you consume 2,000 calories a day. That's about 12 teaspoons, or a quarter cup of sugar. Americans typically have 20 to 33 teaspoons of added sugar a day. Leiran said, "They've put a number to it this time, and I think that's going to make a difference to a lot of people."
And, for the first time, the guidelines will include your morning cup of coffee, allowing three to five cups a day for most people. Leiran said, "They're finding that coffee helps disease prevention and processes everything from heart disease to diabetes to Parkinson’s disease."
Even with the new guidelines, some things won't change. Leiran said, "It's still about eating a balanced diet. Fruits and vegetables across the board have always been known to be really helpful in disease prevention. It's moving more."
It’s something Melinda Cree-Anthony has learned. The Staff Chaplain recently lost 50 pounds, and she attributes it to watching her diet. She said, "It's changed my life. I feel healthier, much more limber and I'm happy to be at this point, in my mid to late 50’s. I’m 56 years old, to know I can continue on and be healthy into my 60’s and 70’s.”
Click here to learn more about the suggested dietary guidelines. You can let the committee know what you think by submitting a comment through the extended deadline of May 8th. The US Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture must approve the guidelines before it is officially updated.