balanced diet
While consumers are urged to eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, guidance was unchanged for consumption of meats, poultry and eggs in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

WASHINGTON – Meat and poultry industry stakeholders are applauding the total-diet focus of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Recommendations in the new guidance focus more on eating patterns and their food and nutrient characteristics, whereas food groups and isolated nutrients were the focus of guidelines past.

“When too much emphasis is placed on one food, nutrient or ingredient, the importance of eating an overall balanced diet with the appropriate number of calories — along with proper levels of physical activity — often gets overlooked,” said Marianne Smith Edge, senior advisor for science and consumer insights for the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation.

Dietary guidance was unchanged for the meats, poultry and eggs subgroup. In the Healthy US-Style Eating Pattern, recommended consumption at the 2,000-calorie level is 26 oz.-equivalents per week —the same as the amount that was in the primary USDA Food Patterns of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines.

However, the guidelines did say that teen boys and adult men need to reduce overall intake of protein foods by decreasing consumption of meats, poultry and eggs. But meat and poultry advocates point out that the guidelines position meat and poultry within a healthy dietary pattern and consumers can achieve their dietary goals in a variety of ways.

“It should come as no surprise to health professionals, dieticians and nutritionists that the 2015 Dietary Guidelines recognize the importance of including chicken in a healthy diet,” said Tom Super, senior vice president of communications for the National Chicken Council. “For many, chicken is the go-to food for lean meat because of its low fat and high protein content, its versatility, affordability, ease of preparation and nutrient richness – all main reasons why per-capita consumption of chicken in 2016 will hit a record high of over 90 pounds per person.”

Speaking for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), Dr. Richard Thorpe, a physician and Texas cattle producer, said the guidelines recognize “all the strong science that supports the many Americans who are looking to build a healthful diet with lean beef.”

“As a physician, I appreciate the secretaries making sure the dietary guidelines are based on the latest nutrition science,” Thorpe said. “Numerous studies have shown positive benefits of lean beef in the diet, and I commonly encourage my patients to include beef in their diet to help them maintain a healthy weight and get the nutrients they need to be physically active.

“Lean beef is a wholesome, nutrient-rich food that helps us get back to the basics of healthy eating, providing many essential nutrients such as zinc, iron, protein and B vitamins, with fewer calories than many plant-based sources of protein,” he added.

The new guidelines also include updated guidance on added sugars and sodium, and no reference to any limit on cholesterol.