For the first time since 1980, the new dietary guidelines, which are released every five years, have singled out sugar as one substance Americans should drastically cut back in their diets. It's been linked to obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cancer.
CBN News reported that according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one-third of Americans are obese.
The guidelines say that sugar should be limited to no more than 10 percent of daily caloric intake, based on a diet of 2,000 per day. This works out to 12 tsps. of sugar per day, but most Americans consume twice as much. Researchers have found that nearly half of that comes from soda consumption.
Cutting back on soda is a good place to start. The research says that almost half of the country's total sugar intake comes from soda. Just one 12 ounce can contain nine teaspoons of sugar - almost an entire day's recommendation. Soda is not the only culprit, however. It's also found in fruit juices, bottled teas and coffees and sports drinks.
Beverages are not the only sources of hidden sugar. It's also found in other processed foods that appear to be good for you such as yogurt, salad dressing, breads and pasta sauces. Even worse, it's often in the form of high fructose corn syrup.
Another difference from the last set of guidelines has to do with cholesterol-containing foods, such as eggs. Until recently the recommendation was no more than 2 eggs a day. Now the research is saying that there is no correlation between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol levels.
Many will be pleased to know that drinking up to 5 cups of coffee a day is considered not only safe, but healthy. There's evidence that it can help reduce incidence of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes and possibly Parkinson's.
As far as red meat and processed meats go, the guidelines conflict with the World Health Organization that stated that red meat "is probably carcinogenic." Bypassing this information, the guidelines focus on the amount consumed. No more than 26 ounces a week from animal sources is recommended, although most teen boys and men exceed that amount. Alternative sources of protein from nuts, seeds and seafood is also recommended.
People also need to watch their sodium intake from salt, which should be no more than 2,300 milligrams or about 1 teaspoon a day. Easy to keep to if cooking at home, but sodium levels are artificially raised by the consumption of processed and restaurant food. The CDC says that 9 out of 10 Americans consume too much salt.
Unchanged from the 2010 guidelines is the recommendation for 2 and a half cups of vegetables and fruit per day and limiting saturated fat to 10 percent of over overall caloric consumption. One new item added to the guideline this time is omega-3 fatty acids that come from fish oil, at 5 teaspoons per day.