Tips for Eating Less Sugar, Saturated Fat And Sodium to Create a Healthier Diet

(The Fresno Bee/TNS) -

Every five years, a panel of experts gets together to map out how to help Americans eat a healthier diet.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee provides recommendations for what unhealthy foods we should eat less of and what healthy foods we should be consuming more of. Often, the recommendations get swift reaction from consumer and industry groups.

Kaiser Permanente dietitian Kim Tirapelle wants to help consumers understand the report.

On the whole, the recommendations focus on the overall intake of the foods we eat. It isn’t just about cutting things out, but how to replace them with something that is healthy. Not surprisingly, the panel found that a majority of Americans do not eat enough vegetables, fruits, whole grains and dairy. They eat far too many processed foods, sugars, refined grains and saturated fat.

So as the panel’s recommendations go through the public comment period, what might this all mean to your everyday diet? Tirapelle has these suggestions for getting a jump start on developing better eating habits.

— The panel is recommending that you eat no more than 2,300 milligrams of dietary sodium a day. Options: If you are buying prepared or packaged foods, pay attention to labels. Canned soups, processed meats and snack foods can be notorious for packing lots of sodium. When cooking at home, instead of reaching for the salt shaker, consider adding fresh herbs and spices. “Not only do you get the benefits of antioxidants, but you also gain foods that have more flavor and taste better,” Tirapelle said.

— The panel recommends that less than 10 percent of your total calories come from saturated fat per day. Options: Add beneficial fats such as olive oil or canola oil. Eat heart-healthy nuts, like almonds, walnuts and pistachios, that are high in unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Avocados are also a good source of healthy fats. “Plus it also adds some thickness to your meals and satiating flavor,” Tirapelle said.

— The panel recommends consuming no more than 10 percent of your total calories from added sugars. Option: Tirapelle said that since sugary sodas are a major source of added sugars, try water with slices of strawberries, cucumber or lemon. “We don’t want you to switch from Coke to Diet Coke,” she said. “There is no nutritional value in that.”

And if sweet desserts are your thing, fruits make a good substitute on their own or as a topping to other desserts, instead of frosting or glazes. Plus you get the benefit of added fiber and other vitamins and nutrients.