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USDA Guidelines

by efunk last modified 2009-08-26 07:56 PM

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA revised the Dietary Guildines

Veggilicious fans may be interested to learn that the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, an organization of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), revised the Dietary Guildines for Americans and launched a new online tool in 2005 that will provide more information to help people implement the guidelines more effectively in daily food decisions.

Revised Food Pyramid Emphasizing fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, the sixth edition of the guidelines stresses reducing calorie consumption and increasing physical activity. Recognizing that one size does not fit all, the USDA released MyPyramid, an online, interactive food guidance tool that stresses a more individualized approach to improving diet and health.

MyPyramid requires that you enter age, sex, and the average amount of physical activity you engage in daily to get a coloric intake and food group recommendation. (Don't cheat! Remember, this is for your eyes only.) So, for instance, MyPyramid suggests that a 35-year-old male who averages less than 30 minutes of moderate or vigorous activity daily eat a 2,400 calorie diet comprised of 3 cups of vegetables, 2 cups of fruit, 3 cups of dairy, 8 oz. of whole grains and 6.5 oz. of meats and beans a day. Alternatively, MyPyramid recommends that a 35-year-old female with the same activity profile consume 1,800 calories a day, made up of 2 1/2 cups of vegetables, 1 1/2 cups of fruit, 3 cups of dairy, 6 oz. of whole grains, and 5 oz. of meat and beans.

While it takes a couple of clicks to get there, the new guidelines do provide information about plant-based alternative sources of calcium--the primary reason milk is in the guidelines at all. See appendix B-4 of the Dietary Guidelines for a list of non-dairy food sources of calcium. (http://www.
health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/document/html/
appendixB.htm#AppB4
), such as calcium-fortified soy beverage, collard greens, turnip greens, white beans, and kale. USDA guidelines also recommend using nuts in salads or main dishes "to replace meat or poultry, not in addition to these items."

The site is full of useful information to assist users in understanding the guidelines, but you sometimes have to click around to find it. For instance, by clicking on my recommended intake of 3 cups weekly of dark leafy vegetables, I can click again on spinach to see what 1 cup of baby spinach looks like. This is very useful for those of us for whom the measuring cup is an exotic kitchen implement.

As the site explains, MyPyramid is not a therapeutic diet for any specific health condition. People with a chronic health condition should consult with a health care provider to determine what dietary patern is appropriate for them. But MyPyramid is a good starting place for anyone who wants to kick off a healthier eating plan the tried and true way—one step at a time.

Go to http://www.mypyramid.gov to check it out.

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