June 5, 2020 by John Fernandez
New U.S. Guidelines: ‘Added Sugars’ Less Than 10% of Daily Calories
For the first time, the U.S. government recommends a limit to the amount of added sugar that should be consumed on a daily basis, according to updated dietary guidelines announced today.
U.S. officials now recommend that added sugars make up less than 10 percent of daily calories. Previously, the government just urged people to “reduce the intake” of added sugars. The new recommendation amounts to about 12 teaspoons of sugar a day. As an example, a can of regular soda usually contains up to 10 teaspoons of sugar.
Nearly half of the added sugars in U.S. diets come from sweetened beverages, such as sodas and sports drinks. On average, Americans consume about 13 percent of daily calories from added sugars, but that percentage for teens is closer to 17 percent of calories, according to the new report. The natural sugar in various foods — such as fruits — is not considered “added sugars.”
The newly released 8th edition of the Dietary Guidelines is the first update in five years. Changes reflect “advancements in scientific understanding about healthy eating choices and health outcomes over a lifetime,” says a statement from both Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia M. Burwell and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
“By focusing on small shifts in what we eat and drink, eating healthy becomes more manageable,” says Secretary Vilsack. “The Dietary Guidelines provide science-based recommendations on food and nutrition so people can make decisions that may help keep their weight under control, and prevent chronic conditions, like type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.”
Another major shift in the dietary guidelines announced today: Americans no longer need to count the amount of cholesterol in their food. The guidelines no longer consider dietary cholesterol as a “nutrient of concern for overconsumption.” The conclusion is based on research suggesting that eating foods high in cholesterol contributes only marginally to levels of cholesterol circulating in the bloodstream.
Here are the three key recommendations from the updated guidelines:
- Added sugars: Less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars. ChooseMyPlate.gov provides more information about added sugars, which are sugars and syrups mixed into foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared. This does not include naturally occurring sugars such as those consumed as part of milk and fruits.
- Saturated fats: Less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats. The Nutrition Facts label can be used to check for saturated fats. Foods that are high in saturated fat include butter, whole milk, meats that are not labeled as lean, and tropical oils such as coconut and palm oil.
- Sodium: Less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium for people over the age of 14 years, and less for those younger. The Nutrition Facts label is a helpful tool to check for sodium, especially in processed foods like pizza, pasta dishes, sauces and soups.
Overall, the guidelines also suggest Americans should consume:
- A variety of vegetables, including dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy and other vegetables.
- Fruits, especially whole fruits.
- Grains, at least half of which are whole grains.
- Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages.
- A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), soy products, and nuts and seeds.
- Oils, including those from plants: canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, and sunflower. Oils also are naturally present in nuts, seeds, seafood, olives, and avocados.