Several of the recommendations
in the current version represent
important steps in the right direction:
- Move to a plant-based diet. The guidelines emphasize eating more foods from plants, such as vegetables and beans, whole grains, and nuts.
- Choose fish twice a week. They encourage Americans to eat more seafood in place of red meat or poultry, acknowledging its special benefits for the heart.
- Not all proteins are equally healthy. They recognize that some protein-rich foods, such as meat, poultry, and eggs, are higher in so-called “solid fats”—the saturated and trans fats that Americans need to cut back on—and recommend replacing them with fish and nuts, or choosing leaner forms of protein.
- Too lax on refined grains. The guidelines say that it’s okay to eat up to half of our bread, cereal, rice, pasta, and other grain foods in their fiber- and nutrient-depleted, refined forms. That’s unfortunate, because in the body, refined grains like white bread and white rice act just like sugar. Over time, eating too much of these refined grain foods can make it harder to control weight, and can raise the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
- Too lenient on red meat and processed meat. High intakes of red meat, such as beef, pork, and lamb, are associated with a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and colon cancer. Yet nowhere in the guidelines does it say to limit red meat. The guidelines also don’t give adequate warning about the hazards of processed meats, such as bacon and hot dogs, which are even more strongly linked to heart disease and diabetes.
- Too much dairy. The guidelines’ recommendation to increase the intake of low-fat milk and dairy products seems to reflect the interests of the powerful dairy industry more so than the latest science. There is little, if any, evidence that eating dairy prevents osteoporosis or fractures, and there is considerable evidence that high dairy product consumption is associated with increased risk of fatal prostate and maybe ovarian cancers. (Read more about calcium, milk and health.)