Many of us eat less than 20% of the amount of vegetables recommended in updated dietary guidelines. The good news is that the goal of 100% is within reach for most of us. The guidelines say we should focus on more dark green, red, and orange vegetables, beans, and peas.
Whole Grains & Refined Grains
A whole grain includes the entire grain seed, or kernel. Examples of whole grains are popcorn, wild rice, buckwheat, bulgur, millet, oatmeal, quinoa, rolled oats, brown rice, and whole-grain barley, rye, and wheat. These foods may be eaten by themselves or found as ingredients in such foods as bread, cereals, and crackers. Multi-grain bread usually is not 100% whole grain.
Refined grains have been milled to remove the bran and germ from the grain. This removes fiber, iron, and many B vitamins. We should replace half of the refined grains we eat with whole grains.
Many whole-grain products are good sources of dietary fiber — but not all of them. Nutritious whole-grain foods should list a whole grain as the first or second ingredient, after water.
We get average of 3.5 ounces of seafood per week, but it is recommended that we double that to 8 ounces a week. That would be 20%, or a fifth, of the recommended weekly amount of protein foods. To do this, we should substitute one serving of seafood for one serving of meat or poultry each week.
We should eat more wild and farmed seafood — including shellfish, such as shrimp, oysters, and crab — but we should avoid fish with high mercury content. Four kinds of fish — tilefish, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel — have relatively high mercury content and should be eaten only occasionally. Pregnant women should avoid these fish (and limit white albacore tuna to 6 ounces per week).
Although green peas are loaded with protein, they are considered a starchy vegetable like white potatoes, and we should limit starchy vegetables to five cups each week. Plant-derived protein foods include kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), lima beans, black-eyed peas, split peas, and lentils. We should eat more of these sources of protein (although you should limit peas because of their starchy content).
A solid fat is any type of fat that is solid at room temperature. This also includes milk fat, lard, stick margarine, and shortening. While solid fats make up an average of 16% of the total calories in our diet, they contribute few nutrients and no fiber.
Better Choice — Canola Oil
New dietary guidelines recommend replacing solid fats, such as butter, with small amounts of oil. Oils such as canola, olive, corn, safflower, and sunflower should be used rather than solid fats, such as butter, stick margarine, shortening, or lard
Burgers and sandwiches are a major source of saturated fats in our diet, as are snacks and sweets. But cheese is the largest source of saturated fat.
Desserts and candy are the best source sugar, sweetened beverages remain the largest source of added sugar, providing 47% of added sugars. Snacks and sweets were second (31%), followed by grains (8%). Added sugars use up your daily allotment of calories but offer little nutrition.
Sugars that are found naturally in foods include fructose (found in fruits) and lactose (found in dairy products). But high-fructose corn syrup and liquid fructose are added sugars, as are white and brown table sugar, honey, molasses, corn syrup, maple syrup, raw sugar, and dextrose. Added sugars contribute an average of 13% of the total calories in our diet.
Cut down on burgers and sandwiches. The latest dietary guidelines recommend eating less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily — and no more than 1,500 milligrams a day for anyone 51 or older, and people with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.
Vigorous activity provides benefits that are similar to those of moderate physical activity in half the time. For example, you might replace some of your brisk walking with jogging or running. But start slow. Give yourself time to build up to more intense exercise. And remember: Any kind of physical activity is better than sitting on the sofa.
Mindless eating is one major factor in eating too much. Other strategies for partygoers include eating a light meal or snack before going to a party, thinking about whether you are hungry before going back to the food table, taking only small portions of food, and concentrating on healthy food options.