Your Road Map to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines

By Karen Ansel, M.S., R.D., "America's New Food Rules," May/June 2011

6 easy rules that could help you live a longer and healthier life.

4. Make Way for Leaner Meats and Poultry and Vegetable Protein

Bad-for-you saturated fat isn’t just hiding in butter and lard. It also lurks in whole milk, full-fat cheese and certain cuts of meat and poultry. Because these foods are such staples in Americans' diets, we are wolfing down one and a half times as much saturated fat as we should. The Dietary Guidelines suggest we replace protein sources "that are higher in solid fats with choices that are lower in solid fats and calories and/or are sources of oils and choose a variety of proteins."

Doing so can significantly improve your health. In a 2009 Journal of Nutrition study, when researchers examined the diets of 350,000 American men and women, they found that the death rate was 20 percent lower during the 10 years of the study in those who consumed lean meat, low-fat dairy and few added solid fats, even after other differences were accounted for. One easy way to trim intake is to choose lower-fat cuts of meat. Trade your rib-eye for flank steak or strip steak and look for ground beef that’s 90%-lean or leaner. For pork, lean choices include tenderloin, trimmed chops and cutlets. When picking poultry, opt for white meat without the skin. Also watch your portions: a healthy serving of cooked meat is 3 ounces (about the size of a deck of cards).

You can also trade saturated-fat-laden sources of animal protein for vegetable proteins, such as beans, peas and nuts. "For the first time we made a very concerted effort to provide guidance for people who want to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet or simply one that emphasizes more plant foods," says Cheryl Achterberg, Ph.D., Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee member and dean of the College of Education and Human Ecology at Ohio State University. Try subbing beans for half (or even all) of the meat, chicken or pork in chili, burritos, pasta dishes or stir-fries. The new Dietary Guidelines now also give a nod to soyfoods as a good source of protein and fortified soymilk as an alternative to dairy.

Related Link: Heart Healthy Dinners

Next: Go for More Whole Grains »

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