2010 Dietary Guidelines Recommends Mediterranean Diet

The 2010 dietary guidelines for Americans recommends the traditional Mediterranean diet as a healthy alternative to the average American diet. These guidelines were released on Jan 31, 2011 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The guidelines are based on the findings of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. This Committee was comprised of scientific experts who reviewed the most recent research into diet and health and used it to create a scientific report based on solid evidence.

A press release quotes the secretary of the US department of Agriculture as saying…

“The 2010 Dietary Guidelines are being released at a time when the majority of adults and one in three children is overweight or obese and this is a crisis that we can no longer ignore,” said Secretary Vilsack. “These new and improved dietary recommendations give individuals the information to make thoughtful choices of healthier foods in the right portions and to complement those choices with physical activity. The bottom line is that most Americans need to trim our waistlines to reduce the risk of developing diet-related chronic disease. Improving our eating habits is not only good for every individual and family, but also for our country.”

The purpose of the dietary guidelines is to educate people with the findings of recent research into health and diet. They will be used to assist health and nutrition experts to create educational materials that will be made available to the general public and special groups like school age children. They will also be used to design and run nutrition programs, including the Federal nutrition assistance and education programs.

The core message of the guidelines is about making healthy food choices, based on nutrient dense foods and drinks rather than calorie dense ones. What does this mean? Nutrient dense foods are foods that are vitamin and mineral rich. These foods are close to their natural state, e.g. fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruit juice etc. Calorie dense foods are those which are high in sugar and calories and are processed until they have very few nutrients left. Eg. processed cereals like coco pops and fruit loops, processed snacks like crisps and cookies, processed meats like chicken nuggets, hamburgers, sausages and drinks like soda. In America today, most people consume far too many calories and not enough nutrients. This causes them to be overweight while being chronically under nourished and this leads to health issues like heart disease, stroke, type II diabetes etc.

But why would the they recommend a traditional Mediterranean diet as an alternative? Because this diet is based upon fresh fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts, fish and seafood with less red meat, sweets, poultry and dairy products than the average American diet. Mediterraneans rarely eat processed foods and most foods are either raw or only lightly cooked. Their diet is high in vitamins, minerals, protein, anti oxidants and essential fatty acids like Omega 3 while being low in toxins and saturated fats that lead to a host of chronic health issues.

For example, according to

  • France: 39.8 deaths per 100,000
  • Spain: 53.8 deaths per 100,000
  • Italy: 65.2 deaths per 100,000
  • Greece: 68.8 deaths per 100,000

All of these figures are impressive but particularly the French figure considering it is just over one third of the worldwide figure. Seems that overall, people who practice a traditional Mediterranean diet are much healthier than the average American.

You can download a copy of the 2010 dietary guidelines from the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion from DietaryGuidelines.gov

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