The USDA Dietary Guidelines have been finalized and made available. You can download the 2020-2025 guidelines here. A few notes have been made by Mic the Vegan which can be seen here. PCRM has provided an overview along with considerations. We’ll cover what the guidelines state and then offer some other thoughts.
The guidelines show facts about nutrition-related health concerns on page 5. Table I-1, which is great. Awareness is key. Heart disease is still the leading cause of death. Dr. Esselstyn can help with that. Cardiovascular disease risk factors include hypertension, cholesterol consumption, and stroke. The guidelines on page 44 state that “dietary cholesterol consumption to be as low as possible without compromising the nutritional adequacy of the diet.” Now, what’s as low as possible? How much dietary cholesterol is needed for a human body to thrive? Zero. Humans need zero dietary cholesterol. The guidelines later go on to recommend eggs (which is loaded with cholesterol – the very thing they say to minimize). They also acknowledge that higher intakes of whole-plant foods leads to better health outcomes when comparing processed-meats and added-sugar foods. However, they do not specifically call out the fact that the WHO has found enough epidemiological evidence to classify processed meats as a class 1 carcinogen (causes colorectal cancer) and red meats as a class 2A (probably carcinogenic) carcinogen.
Three of the biggest mistakes is the fact that they 1) recommend dairy, 2) the continuation of the word “protein,” and 3) promote oils.
- Dairy is NOT necessary for optimal health.
- They recommend fruits (specific foods), vegetables (specific food group), whole grains (specific food group), and protein (a macronutrient). This is antiquated at best. Amino acids are in every plant and animal in varying amounts. I would recommend being this Power Plate over all others. It’s frustrating to know some of the smartest people in the field of nutrition still use this terminology when it’s unnecessary. That’s like saying eat legumes, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and carbs. Carbs are clearly redundant.
- Oils are NOT necessary for optimal health. In fact, it could be considered unwise to advise such things since we are fighting an obesity epidemic in the U.S.. Why would experts in the field of nutrition and health suggest consuming liquid fat (the most calorically dense “food” on the planet) for a nation that is 74% overweight or obese by its own admission (page 5. Table I-1)?
Overall, there are slight improvements. Unfortunately, the influence of animal-agriculture (dairy, egg, meat) is still present. I am disappointed, but not surprised. The guidelines are also contradictory (minimize cholesterol and eat eggs).
Bottom line: consume water, legumes, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and if necessary, supplementation, this should allow humans to thrive.