Servings of lean meat, poultry, eggs and dairy remain in the newly established 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In a long awaiting arrival, the United Stated Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services released the updated guidelines on Jan. 7. The DGA’s are broken into three diet plans: Healthy U.S. Style Eating Pattern, Healthy Mediterranean Style Eating Pattern, and the Healthy Vegetation Eating Pattern.
“The Dietary Guidelines provides a clear path for the general public, as well as policy makers and health professionals and others who reach the public, to help Americans make healthy choices, informed by a thoughtful, critical, and transparent review of the scientific evidence on nutrition,” says representatives for USDA and HHS.
These recommendations will be pivotal in the education components of health professionals, Federal food and education programs, along with serving as a manual for registered dieticians, and focus on five overarching guidelines:
- Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan
- Focus on a variety, nutrient-dense foods, and amount
- Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats to no more than 10% of total calories, and sodium to no more than 2,300 milligrams/day
- Choose healthy foods and beverages
- Support healthy eating patterns for all
For a person on a 2,000 calorie a day diet on the U.S. Style Eating Pattern, it is recommended they allot 26 ounces of lean meat, poultry and eggs in their diet for a week. These protein foods are outlined as:
All seafood, meats, poultry, eggs, soy products, nuts, and seeds. Meats and poultry should be lean or low-fat and nuts should be unsalted. Legumes (beans and peas) can be considered part of this group as well as the vegetable group, but should be counted in one group only.
The same calorie bracket was also advised 3 servings of dairy, with recommendations of Americans choosing fat-free of low-fat options, and removing cream, sour cream and cream cheese from the list because of inadequate calcium levels.
The decision to keep animal protein in the guidelines has been applauded by many industry groups, especially the beef industry who has 38 cuts of beef that meet the government’s standards as a lean product.
“Lean beef is a wholesome, nutrient-rich food that helps us get back to the basics of healthy eating, providing many essential nutrients such as zinc, iron, protein and B vitamins, with fewer calories than many plant-based sources of protein,” says Texas beef producer and physician Richard Thorpe in a statement for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “Over the last decade or so, a significant amount of research shows that many people can lose and maintain a healthy weight, support a healthy metabolism and age more vibrantly when they consume more high-quality protein, within calorie goals.”
National Dairy Council Chief Science Officer Greg Miller echos, saying, “Overall, the Guidelines are good for dairy and are not dramatically different from 2010. There is a strong emphasis that dairy foods are under-consumed, and that there is a need for more dairy products in the diet, particularly milk and yogurt.”
However, some organizations accuse the DGA committee in caving to industry groups.
"We are pretty disappointed the report doesn't recommend limiting red and processed meat because of the link to cancer," says Katie McMahon of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network in an article with NBC News.
“Given the huge health and environmental costs of diets high in factory farmed meat, the lack of clear guidance on lowering meat consumption does a disservice to the public and our future food security,” says Kari Hamerschlag, senior program manager with Friends of the Earth in a press release. “The administration has clearly put the financial interests of the meat industry over the weight of the science and the health of the American people.”