Need help translating the new Dietary Guidelines? Here’s our take on what’s new, what you need to know, and how to put it into action. By: Holley Grainger, MS, RD
Fight Heart Disease with Potassium

The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 were released on January 31, 2011. Here’s what the Registered Dietitians at think are the most important takeaways, plus tips and recipes to help achieve these goals. Implementing these strategies into your daily routine can help you to consume fewer calories, maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic disease, and promote overall health.

In past years, the Dietary Guidelines have been intended for healthy Americans over the age of 2. This year, the guidelines recognize that a large percentage of Americans are overweight or obese and are at risk for a variety of chronic diseases. Children are also a focus of the guidelines since the eating patterns established at a young age are often continued till later in life.

Here are some of the important recommendations:

1. Maintain calorie balance over time to achieve and sustain a healthy weight. Enjoy what you eat but keep a healthy balance by watching your calorie intake and increasing your physical activity. Our collection of low-calorie recipes and tips to cut calories can help.

2. Consume nutrient-rich foods and beverages. Cut out the refined foods and sugary drinks and add lean meat, seafood, beans, nuts, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and water to your diet. Check out each link for healthy recipes featuring these foods.

3. Reduce your sodium to less than 2300mg/day. If you’re 51, African American or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease, reduce sodium to less than 1500mg/day. Check out our collection of thousands of low-sodium recipes and these 10 tips to help you reduce the salt but not the flavor.

4. Get off your SoFas! Yes, as in the couch. Exercise more and avoid solid fats like butter and margarine and added sugars. Choose healthy oils instead.

5. Eat more seafood, at least 8 ounces per week. This advice is also for pregnant and breastfeeding women, but with a reminder to limit white (albacore) tuna and avoid tilefish, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel.

6. Choose foods that provide more potassium, fiber, vitamin D, and calcium. These are nutrients that Americans often don’t get enough of in their diets.

Also included in the guidelines are food safety tips for proper food storage and refrigeration temperatures.