National Nutrition Month |

Eat Healthy, Shop Smart with Ashley.


March celebrates National Nutrition Month! Thus, I thought it would be a great time to fill you all in on the new 2015 guidelines that have just been released! Yes, I know we are in 2016, but it usually take a year before the new guidelines are officially released. The dietary guidelines are updated every 5 years based on the latest research and trends we are seeing in the American population when it comes to the average nutrient intake. The dietary guidelines for Americans are a joint effort between the Health and Human Services department and the US Department of Agriculture. They describe adaptable eating patterns that both promote health and reduce the risk of chronic disease across an individual’s lifespan.

Now I will go through each food group, how Americans have been doing as a whole and what the new recommendations are for the next few years:


The average current intake of fruit, for all age and sex groups, is below the dietary recommendations. About 1/3 of the

Fruit: National Nutrition Month fruit intake in the US comes from fruit juices with the remaining 2/3 coming from whole fruits. Fruits and fruit juices were found to be consumed alone or in a mixture with other fruits, as opposed to being consumed as a part of a mixed dish. Almost 90% of all fruit intake comes from single fruits, fruit salads, or fruit juices, with some of the more commonly consumed fruits being apples, bananas, grapes, watermelon, strawberries, blueberries, and pears to name a few.

The new dietary guidelines aim to increase the consumption of fruits, stating that most individuals in the US would benefit from increasing their intake of fruit. Several ways to include more fruits in your diet include: choosing fruits as snacks and adding them to salads, side dishes, and desserts. The dietary guidelines suggest:

  • 2 Cups of Fruit/Day
  • At least 1/2 from Whole Fruits
  • Remember to Watch for Added Sugars

Dietary fiber, potassium, and vitamin C are the main nutrients we should think of when we are consuming fruit.


The current intake of vegetables, according to the dietary guidelines, is low across all age/sex groups when compared to the recommended levels. In addition, the US population does not meet the intake recommendations for any of the

Vegetables: National Nutrition Monthvegetable subgroups.

It is important to note that each vegetable subgroup is going to provide a different combination of nutrients, meaning that we need to make sure that we are getting adequate amounts of each vegetable subgroup. The dietary guidelines suggest:

  •  2 1/2 Cups of Vegetables/Day
  • You Consume a Variety from all 5 Veggie Categories: Dark Green, Red/Orange, Legumes, Starchy & Other
  • Choose Lower Sodium Canned/Frozen Vegetables

The nutrients we receive from vegetables are as follows: Fiber, potassium, Vitamins A, C, E, and B6, copper, magnesium, choline, folate, iron, manganese, thiamin and niacin.


The current intake of grains, for all age/sex groups, is close to the recommended levels, but intake does not meet the recommended level for whole grains and, at the same time, exceeds the recommendations for refined grains. Some of the refined grains commonly consumed include: white bread, rolls, bagels, crackers, pasta, pizza crusts, and grain

Grains: National Nutrition Monthbased desserts. The more commonly consumed whole grains come from whole-wheat breads, rolls, bagels, oatmeal, brown rice, popcorn, and whole-wheat pasta.

The 2015 dietary guidelines are aiming to make a shift to make half of all grains consumed whole grains. This can be accomplished by choosing whole-grain versions of commonly consumed foods. Some other strategies to increase the consumption of whole grains include: choosing foods that have “Whole Grain” listed as the first ingredient and cutting back on refined grain desserts. These are the nutrients we receive from grains: Fiber, iron, zinc, manganese, folate, magnesium, copper, thiamin, niacin, Vitamin B6, phosphorus, selenium, riboflavin, Vitamin A. The dietary guidelines suggest 6 Oz. of Grains/Day and at least half from Whole Grains.


The current intake of dairy is also far below the recommended levels for most age/sex groups. Children ages 1-3 meet

Dairy: National Nutrition Month the recommended levels, but all other age groups have an average intake below the recommended levels. Milk and cheese make up most of the dairy consumption in the US with milk consumption being 51% of dairy intake cheese being 45% and yogurt being 2.6%. Approximately 3/4 of milk consumed is consumed as a beverage or on cereal, whereas most cheese is consumed as part of mixed dishes such as burgers, tacos, pizza and pasta.

The 2015 dietary guidelines aim to shift to the consumption of more dairy products, in nutrient dense forms such as low-fat milk and yogurt. Several strategies to increase your dairy consumption include: drinking fat-free milk with meals, choosing yogurt as a snack, and using yogurt as an ingredient in things such as salad dressings and spreads. Here is a list of the key nutrients found in dairy: Calcium, phosphorus, Vitamin A, D, B`12, riboflavin, protein, potassium, zinc, choline, magnesium, and selenium.


The overall average intake of protein in near the recommended levels for all age/sex groups with an overall lower than recommended intake of seafood, average intake of nuts and seeds near recommended levels, and an average intake of

Protein: National Nutrition Monthmeats, poultry, and eggs being high for both teen boys and adult men. Some of the more commonly consumed protein foods are going to include beef, chicken, pork, processed meats, and eggs. The more common seafood including tuna, shrimp, and salmon, and some of the more common nuts being peanuts, peanut butter, almonds, and mixed nuts.

The new dietary guidelines look to shift the intake of protein to more variety as well as more nutrient dense choices. Some strategies you can use to increase your protein consumption are going to include incorporating more seafood as protein choices (2x/week) and using nuts and seeds in mixed dishes. The dietary guidelines suggest:

  • 5 Oz. Meat/Day
  • Subgroup Recommendations Include:
    • 8 Oz./Week Seafood
    • 26 Oz./ Week Meat, Poultry or Eggs
    • 5 Oz./Week Nuts, Seeds, Soy Products

The key nutrients of this group are as follows: B vitamins, selenium, choline, phosphorus, zinc, iron, omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin E, D, copper, and manganese. Please note these nutrients vary on the type of protein source you are consuming.


Oils: National Nutrition Month

Oils are not considered a food group, however, oils and healthy fats are recommended as part of healthy, nutritious, and well balanced diet. Intake of oils are close to recommended levels, however, they are lower than recommendations for all age/sex groups. Here in the US, most oils are consumed in the form of packaged foods, such as salad dressings, mayonnaise, prepared vegetables, chips, as well as nuts and seeds. They are also used in food preparation including stir fries and sautés. The most commonly used oil is soybean oil, with canola, olive, cottonseed, sunflower, and peanut oil not falling too far behind. Some other common oils are referred to as tropical oils and these encompass coconut, palm, and palm kernel oils. These oils are actually considered a fat, as opposed to an oil, as they are solid at room temperature. The dietary guidelines are aiming to shift the intake of solid fats to oils. To make this shift, individuals should use oils rather than solid fats in food preparation, when possible. Several strategies to help make this shift are using vegetable oils in place of solid fats (butter, stick margarine, lard, and coconut oil) when cooking, increasing the intake of foods that contain natural oils (seafood and nuts), and in place of some meat/poultry.


Added Sugars: National Nutrition Month

The intake of added sugars in the US accounts for  about 270 calories, or 13 % of calories, each day. The major source of added sugars in our diets are from soft drinks, fruit drinks, sweetened coffees/teas, energy drinks, alcoholic beverages, and flavored waters. Beverages alone account for 47% of all added sugars consumed by the US population. Some other sources include snacks and sweets. The 2015 dietary guidelines are looking to shift the intake of added sugar consumption to less than 10% of calories/day. If you are following a 2,000 calorie diet plan, that is no more than 200 calories coming from sugar/day, or 20 grams. Several strategies to reduce our intake of added sugars includes choosing no sugar added beverages, choosing low-fat or fat-free milk and 100% fruit juice, limiting/decreasing the portion size of grain based desserts, and choosing snacks that are unsweetened or have no sugar added.


Americans currently consume 11% of their calories in the form of saturated fats with only 29% of the population consuming the amounts of saturated fats that are consistent with the limit of less than 10% of calories per day. Mixed dishes are the main source of saturated fats in the US, with 35% of all saturated fats coming from mixed dishes. These mixed dishes include burger, sandwiches, tacos, pizza, and pasta. Several other food categories that provide the US with most of their saturated fats are snacks and sweets, protein foods, and dairy products. With the new dietary guidelines, they are aiming to shift the intake of saturated fats to less than 10% of calories per day. That means, if you are following a 2,000 calorie diet, you should be getting no more than 120 calories from saturated fats, or 13 grams. This can be accomplished by reading labels, choosing lower fat forms of foods/beverages, and consuming smaller portions of foods that are high in saturated fats. Americans are also recommended to keep trans-fat intake as low as possible. It is important to note that fat is an essential nutrient needed for our bodies, it is more about choosing the right type of fat rather than the amount of total fat.


Cholesterol is no longer considered a nutrient to monitor. This is because cholesterol in the foods does not impact the cholesterol levels in our blood. The saturated fats have greater impact on the cholesterol levels in our blood, so it is of more importance to monitor that. However, it is important to note that foods that are high in cholesterol are typically high in saturated fats as well.


The average intake of sodium is high across all age/sex groups in the US when compared to the tolerable upper intake levels. Only a small proportion of the sodium we are consuming is coming from sodium that is inherent in foods or salt added at the table. Most of our sodium is coming from commercially processed and prepared foods. Sodium can be found in mixed dishes; rice, pasta, and grain dishes; pizza; meat, poultry, and seafood dishes; and soups. The dietary guidelines aim to increase food choices that reduce sodium intake. Because it is found in so many of the foods that we eat, we need to make careful food choices. Several strategies are going to include using the Nutrition Facts panel to compare the sodium content of foods, choosing fresh, frozen, or no salt added vegetables, poultry, seafood, pork, and lean meat, and eating/preparing foods at home as opposed to going out or buying premade foods.


The dietary guidelines do not recommend that individuals begin drinking or drink more for any reason. Alcohol should be consumed by adults only of the legal drinking age, and they should not surpass the recommended intake levels for their gender. That being one drink/day for women and two drinks per day for men. As far as caffeine goes, 95% of all adults consume caffeine whether it be from food or beverages. The upper amount associated with moderate caffeine consumption that can be incorporated into healthy eating patterns is 400mg/day.


Here is a list of under consumed nutrients:

  • Potassium
  • Fiber
  • Choline
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin A, D, E, and C.

It is important to be aware of this so you can look at your average daily consumption of foods and see which ones you need to focus on in order to increase your daily intake of these nutrients as they serve very important functions in our body.

Finally, this is how your macronutrients intake should be each and every day.

Surprised? I figured! Remember there is so much misinformation floating around in society, particularly energized by the media. It is always important to check in with a licensed practitioner who can provide you with the most current science based answers and solutions for your individual case. Please refer back to the food groups above to make the best choices within each of these macronutrient food groups.


Exercise: National Nutrition Month

Last but not least, don’t forget to keep active. Here are the current recommendations according to the 2015 dietary guidelines. For adults ages 18-64, you should be getting at least 150 minutes a moderate physical activity each weeks or 75 minutes a week of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity. For additional healthy benefits, adults in this age group should increase their physical activity to 300 minutes each week of moderate activity and 150 minutes each week of vigorous intensity activity. Muscle strength training should also be included 2 or more days a week. For adults in the 65 and older category, they should follow these same guidelines, being as physically active as their bodies allow.

I hope you are able to better understand what you daily diet should be composed of amidst all the fad diets and misinformation. Again, this is all science based and meant to allow you to get all the nutrients you need in order to be the healthiest you! It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being better than you were. Each day provides us with a new opportunity, but the sooner you start the better your chances of greater healthy quality overtime.

Peace and wellness,


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