Every five years, the U.S. government updates its dietary guidelines, making new suggestions for how America should be eating. The just-released suggestions are based, as always, on exhaustive advice from experts around the country, drawing on hundreds of scientific studies. Parsing the guidelinesfor smart, simple dietary changes can reveal greatways to enhance your health.
In some ways, there are few surprises: We should be eating more vegetables, drinking more water, and cutting back on sugar.
One of the most surprising aspects of the guidelines is that they say it’s okay to consume processed meats in moderation, even after the World Health Organization last year pronounced processed meat carcinogenic, comparing them to arsenic and tobacco. The guidelines also backtracked on suggestions that all of us eat less meat, despite WHO’s evidence that red meat is “probably” a carcinogen, and definitively linked to pancreatic and prostate cancer.
“This failure to embrace decades of research with the potential to save thousands of American lives represents a missed opportunity,” writes American Institute of Cancer Research Vice-President for Research Susan Higginbotham Ph.D., RD. Despite all the evidence that diets high in red meat are “convincingly linked to colorectal cancer… once again, the Guidelines instruct Americans only to `choose lean meats.’”
While the experts argue, is there a clear take-away if you’re just trying to clean up your diet? Absolutely. Here’s advice that most nutrition experts say we can take to the bank.