Uncle Sam’s New Dietary Guidelines: Eat Like the Greeks

Uncle Sam thinks we should eat like the Greeks: Consume more vegetables, fruit, whole grains and seafood. We also should cook and eat more healthy food at home.

That’s the gist of a set of recommendations issued this summer by a panel of scientists and nutritionists tapped by the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services Departments to overhaul the U.S. government’s dietary guidelines.

The panel recommends we cut back on salt, processed meats such as bacon, and sugar-sweetened soft drinks. It also points to the Mediterranean diet — rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and olive oil — as one of the best-documented examples of a healthy, plant-based diet.

“There is a specific call-out for a focus on plant-based diets, like the Mediterranean diet,” says Greg Drescher, executive director of strategic initiatives at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus.

The federal government is required to update its so-called Dietary Guidelines for Americans every five years. The last set was issued in 2005. The new guidelines are due out later this year.

Here’s a summary of the 13-member panel’s recommendations:

  • Eat a more plant-based diet that emphasizes vegetables, cooked dry beans and peas, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
  • Eat more seafood and fat-free and low-fat milk and milk products.
  • Consume only moderate amounts of lean meats, poultry, and eggs.
  • Lay off salt by reducing sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams a day from 2,300 mg.
  • One or two glasses of wine or other alcohol a day are fine.
  • Lower the consumption of saturated fat to 7 percent of total caloric intake from 10%.
  • Empower and motivate people, especially families with children, to prepare and consume healthy foods at home.

The dietary guidelines affect federally funded food programs such as the school lunch program and what prisoners eat. They also help shape the government’s food pyramid and the nutritional labels you see on packaged foods.

Claude S. Weiller
Vice President of Sales & Marketing
California Olive Ranch