Now that sustainability is at the forefront of Americans’ diets, 700 leading doctors, nutritionists, and public health professionals want to ensure the 2015 Dietary Guidelines reflect their goal.
Since 1980, a new set of guidelines have been released like clockwork by a carefully selected advisory committee of dozens of experts that shape the way Americans eat, how school cafeterias feed children, the military receives rations, and the food industry markets toward consumers. This year, after the 2015’s list of national recommendations was published, a list of key revisions and advocacies were outlined in a letter Tuesday.
“If in an age when we know that food and water shortages are clear and present dangers, we choose to ignore them in our dietary guidelines, then these are not dietary guidelines for Americans,” Dr. David Katz, signatory and founding director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, said in a statement distributed by the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.
The letter expresses specific support for touting plant-based diet nutrition outlined in the recently released guidelines. However, the guidelines left out cholesterol restrictions despite recommendations in previous years to limit dietary cholesterol to no more than 300 milligrams per day. Steak, hamburgers, and fried chicken, for example, spike cholesterol levels when they’re eaten on a daily basis. The doctors and nutritionists write they support the guideline’s push for less red and processed meat in order to ensure a sustainable diet that is designed to last us for the long-term.
“Addressing this complete challenge is essential to ensure a healthy food supply will be available for future generations,” the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee said in its recommendations this year.
The doctors and nutritionists “applaud” the advisory committee for encouraging Americans to choose lean meats and poultry as their animal protein intake. High rates of red and processed meat consumption lead to certain types of cancer, and a diet with less meat and more plant-based foods will reduce chronic and preventable diseases that account for 75 percent of all health care costs, according to the experts.
However, they “urge” the committee to include a specific numerical limit to lower red and processed meat intake, including common food names found in the supermarket, in order to help consumers shop smarter. They also ask non-animal protein replacements to be listed so consumers have accurate alternatives on-hand, such as legumes, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and whole grains.
“A diet higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in calories and animal-based foods is more health-promoting and is associated with less environmental impact than is the current U.S. diet,” the letter reads.