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Nutrition Experts React to New Dietary Guidelines

Less of These Foods

The guidelines recommend cutting back on sodium, added sugars, refined grains (especially those with added sugars, solid fats, and sodium), saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, and, for some people, alcohol.

"These are being called out to help consumers become more aware of the foods and beverages that are more likely contributing to obesity and to encourage healthier substitutions," Rimm says.

The guidelines include a sample list of both nutrient-rich and nutrient-poor foods and beverages.

Lawrence Appel, MD, MPH, a member of the dietary guidelines advisory committee, says reducing sodium is critical to the health of the nation. Roughly 50% of the population should only get 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. "Americans consume way too much sodium, but if we can gradually get it down, we can reduce the risk of serious chronic diseases," Appel says.

"If you follow the guidelines, read food labels, eat less processed food and a more plant-based diet, your sodium intake will be reduced naturally," says Appel, who is also professor of medicine at John Hopkins Institutions and vice chair of the American Heart Association's nutrition committee.

Good nutrition is all about balance, striving for a healthier diet one step at a time.

Putting it all together may seem daunting. But if you start by making small changes, stocking your kitchen with healthy foods, preparing and eating more meals at home, and going for family walks, it adds up and it matters.

Never before has there been such an interest or greater need for guidelines that can help people eat healthier diets, cut out extra calories, and achieve overall health and wellness.

The time is now.

Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, is director of nutrition for WebMD. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.

Edited on January 31, 2011

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