Everything you know about your diet is a lie, and in the best way possible — according to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture, who jointly publish the "Dietary Guidelines for Americans" once every five years, cholesterol is not bad for you, so eat all the eggs and butter you want. Well, not quite all you want, but more than you were previously allotted under past recommendations. In fact, according to the new guidelines, breakfast lovers everywhere have new cause for celebration, as eggs, butter, and coffee have all been deemed relatively good for you. But drink your coffee black, or at the very last, sans sugar, and don't forget your florentine with that eggs benedict.
In a move that represents a major shift in health policy, health experts and doctors are now saying that the American disdain for saturated fat and cholesterol has actually contributed to the obesity epidemic, as it has driven consumers towards sugar-rich foods. Not only is the sugar bad for you in and of itself, but overconsumption also leads to increased hunger due to quick spikes in your metabolism, which makes you eat more than you would otherwise. So while cholesterol is no longer being vilified, sugar remains at the top of the list of things to avoid — sorry dessert fans.
According to the latest report, cholesterol that comes from foods like eggs, shrimp, lobster, and butter, is "not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption." In fact, researchers now say that science "shows no appreciable relationship" between cardiovascular disease and your cholesterol intake, undoing years of no-egg-yolk lessons that have drilled into the millennial, egg-white-worshipping mind. While the committee does not specify how much cholesterol is enough (or too much, for that matter), suffice it to say that you no longer need to avoid cracking that extra egg into your morning scramble.
Of course, the caveat remains in that there is a directly proportional relationship between foods that are high in cholesterol and foods that are high in saturated fat. And despite the change in tune regarding the former, the latter is still to be avoided, even more so than before, in fact. In 2010, the panel advised that saturated fats comprise 10 percent of your daily caloric intake, but now, experts have reduced this number to just 8 percent. Looks like you can have your cake, but you can't quite eat it.
However, to make up for this slight drawback, experts have some good news along a different vein. The panel has determined that not only is coffee not all that bad for you, but your morning cup of joe might also assist in prevention of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. While scientists are wary of overstating the benefits of any food (seeing as they seem to change their minds quite frequently on what is and isn't good for you), Cornell University nutritionist Tom Brenna, who contributed to the report, told Bloomberg, "I don’t want to get into implying coffee cures cancer, but there is no evidence for increased risk — if anything, [it's] the other way around." Seriously, breakfast for dinner every night.
Unfortunately, if you're looking to the 571-page report for a detailed outline of what you should be eating to maintain a healthy weight, you'll have to look elsewhere. Despite its tome-like length, the report offers shockingly few exacting details when it comes to what you can and cannot eat. Instead, it simply reinforces some pretty basic health standards that we've all heard before. As though to be as vague as possible, the panel simply suggests diets that:
- "are higher in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains;
- include seafood and legumes;
- are moderate in dairy products (with an emphasis on low- and non-fat dairy);
- are moderate in alcohol;
- are lower in meats (including red and processed meats);
- are lower in sugar-sweetened foods and beverages; and
- are lower in refined grains."
So surprise! Eating your vegetables is still good for you, while drinking excessively and eating lots of sugar and red meat still won't prolong your life. But as the panel points out, each individual reacts to diets differently, so unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to maintaining your health and keeping a healthy weight. As such, the report avoids suggesting any drastic measures that would do away with entire food groups from consumption, saying, "no food groups need to be eliminated completely to improve sustainability outcomes."
Still, there remains a distinct need to find a way to curb the ongoing obesity crisis in the United States. Barbara Millen, the chairwoman of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, noted:
About half of all American adults — 117 million individuals — have one or more preventable (emphasis hers) chronic diseases that relate to poor quality dietary patterns and physical inactivity, including cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and diet-related cancers. More than two-thirds of adults and nearly one-third of children and youth are overweight or obese. These devastating health problems have persisted for decades, strained U.S. health care costs, and focused the attention of our health care system on disease treatment rather than prevention. They call for bold action and sound, innovative solutions.
The good news, however, is that our healthiest age cohort in the United States is actually the 2 to 5-year-old group, suggesting that we have, at the very least, started our children on the right track for healthy diets. And now that eggs are back in, there's little reason for them to deviate, right?
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