These New Dietary Guidelines Will Make You Feel Great About Brunch

Photographed by Danny Kim.
Today marks the release of new dietary guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA. And it looks like brunch fans will be happy to see their faves get passing grades. The previous version of the guidelines, released five years ago, included a line cautioning us to limit the amount of cholesterol we ate. So one of the biggest changes in this version is the absence of that line. Although it's still important to keep tabs on cholesterol (as in, be reasonable and don't eat a cholesterol–only diet or something), it isn't a particularly helpful thing to stress about limiting. Instead, we should try to keep track of our larger healthy-eating patterns and where cholesterol-heavy foods may fit in. In particular, the guidelines point us to egg yolks and some shellfish as foods not to worry too much about, because while they are hearty sources of cholesterol, they aren't overloaded with saturated fats (research suggests saturated fats can actually increase your body's cholesterol levels). Brunch fans will also be happy to know the guidelines are pretty accommodating of a coffee-heavy lifestyle, too: They suggest we all try to keep our caffeine intake under 400 milligrams per day, which is equivalent to about four cups of coffee. Although most of us stay well within that limit (and see some potential health benefits), the guidelines say a small amount of people over the age of 31 tend to have more than that. So, for the most part, feel free to keep up your coffee habit. The guidelines are also pretty forgiving when it comes to red and processed meats, which have recently been associated with an increased risk of some types of cancer. Although they suggest we emphasize lean protein sources (e.g., poultry, fish, and eggs), they don't specifically tell consumers to cut down on meat. This issue has been quite a sticking point, with some suggesting the meat industry lobbied to keep that point out of the guidelines. And the new guidelines offer some welcome advice on avoiding added sugars. They suggest keeping added sugars below 10% of our daily calories, which will hopefully be easier to calculate if the FDA follows through on its proposal to include this information on nutrition labels. For their part, the FDA recommends that we don't consume more than 50 grams (12.5 teaspoons) of added sugar per day. Finally, this year's sodium guidelines are a little more relaxed than in the previous version. Before, most adults were advised to keep their sodium intake below 1,500 milligrams per day. Now, we're good if we can keep it under 2,300. (Though most of us eat more than that higher limit.) But overall, the guidelines follow the advice we all know: More fruits, veggies, and lean proteins with limited sodium and without the added sugar. And with that, this weekend is already looking pretty delicious.

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