Nutrition and Science – Learning From Evidence Based Practice

heartLast week’s report from the DGAC suggested a few new key pieces of information for consumers to consider.

The report suggested that we keep drinking coffee, eat more eggs, eat less sugar and processed foods, and eat more whole grains, fruits and vegetables. We should keep taking in low- and non-fat dairy, seafood, legumes and nuts, eat less processed and red meat, and consume alcohol in moderation (for adults).

As the media has disseminated the findings of the report, there are twists and turns possibly leading to consumer confusion. Yet, to me, the nutritional advice has never been more consistent and scientifically based. The report also commented specifically on food sustainability, which could not be more prudent.

Fad diets come and go, but have you ever heard or read (from a legitimate nutrition source) that you should decrease your intake of fruits and veggies? Has any registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) ever said to eat more sugar? For years I have been advising my clients and any group I speak to that eating high cholesterol foods does not raise your blood cholesterol. I have even suggested that eggs are super foods that naturally occur. So this piece is not “new” news to me at all.

For those of you looking to incorporate the reports information into practice, here is what I would suggest. A review of the report’s suggestions on sugar is a great place to start. Sugar is to be less than 10% of total intake. In a 2000 kcal diet this equals 200 kcals a day or 50 grams per day from added sugar. Confused yet?

Tracking your sugar intake means paying particular attention to ‘sugars’ listed on food labels. ‘Sugars’ on food labels means both kinds of sugar – naturally occurring and added. As consumers we often fail to accurately assess just how much sugar some of our favorite snacks contain.

For example, enjoying maple syrup on your waffle means this is your intake of added sugar for the day, at about 53 grams for 4 tablespoons or ¼ cup. A serving of Oreos, at 14 grams of sugar, is about 1/3 the recommended added sugars for the day. Try not to worry about naturally occurring sugars like lactose and fructose in foods like yogurt and fruit. These are foods we need in our diet (if not lactose intolerant or allergic to any fruit).

Here are some additional ways to put the report findings into practice:

  1. Keep eggs in your diet while limiting saturated fat in cooking methods.
  2. Choose seafood (farm raised or wild) at least 1-2 times per week. The risks of mercury and organic pollutants do not outweigh the health benefits (except in recommendations for pregnant women).
  3. Fill ½ of your plate at every meal with fruits and vegetables, in an attempt to take in 5 servings (the size of your fist) a day.
  4. Choose low-fat and non-fat dairy to get in calcium. (I suggest that whole fat dairy also has health benefits if incorporated into a healthy diet, but this is not aligned with the report.)
  5. Maintain intake of 2.5-3 fistfuls daily of whole grains such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole wheat or whole grain pasta and potatoes.
  6. Keep drinking coffee daily. However, limit the added fats and sugars.
  7. Consuming red meat is acceptable – as long as it’s lean, eaten in moderation and portion size is controlled. Limiting processed meats is preferred.
  8. Choose fats such as olive oil, canola oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil and safflower oil for cooking.


Exercise and physical activity were also reviewed in the report. Limit screen time, know your disease related health risks, and get enough sleep.

If the DGAC report or anything you read in the media creates nutritional questions for you, please be in touch with me. I also invite you to read the report and write in your comments prior to the release of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines later this year. Click here.

Next month is National Nutrition Month – Bite Into a Healthy Lifestyle. I’ll also be writing about Nutrigenomix, how our genetics may play a role in our nutritional health, and how I can test you for these genetic markers.