Nutrition panel: Here's how you should eat

Nutrition panel: Here's how you should eat
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There's good news for coffee drinkers and vegans in new dietary recommendations that could be incorporated into guidelines from the federal government.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee said a moderate consumption of coffee — three to five cups per day — can be incorporated into a healthy diet. The report said there’s evidence that coffee can reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in adults, and that caffeine intake can protect against the risk of Parkinson’s disease.

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But beware of sugar and cream, the committee advised.

“Care should be taken to minimize the amount of calories from added sugars and high-fat dairy or dairy substitutes added to coffee,” the report said.

The Department of Heath and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) use the report, along with input from other federal agencies and comments from the public, to draft Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015, which will be released later this year.

The advisory committee's report includes good news for vegans, finding that an organically grown vegan diet had the most potential health benefits and the lowest estimated impact on resources and the quality of the ecosystem.

Also new this year, the advisory committee struck cholesterol from the list of nutrients that consumers should be careful not to over-consume. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans previously recommended that cholesterol intake be limited to 300 milligrams a day, but research indicates that cholesterol levels in the blood are not tied to foods.

The committee also said in its report that sugar-sweetened beverages should be replaced with healthier options like water, rather than drinks with low-calorie sweeteners.

The recommendations state that moderate consumption of alcohol is part of a beneficial dietary pattern.

When it comes to daily food intake, the panel said the general population should shoot for less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, less than 10 percent of total calories from saturated fat and a maximum of 10 percent of total calories from added sugar.
 
Though the American Heart Association argues those targets for sodium, saturated fats and added sugars need to be lower, it said the advisory committee’s recommendations are a step in the right direction.
 
“Reducing excessive salt in our diets is critical to cutting our cardiovascular risk, and the association is pleased that the committee emphasizes this in their recommendations,” association President Elliott Antman said in a release.
 
“We urge the food industry to give Americans a better chance to achieve this goal, by decreasing sodium in packaged and restaurant foods — the source of nearly 80 percent of the salt we eat daily.”