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Oldways Offers Useful Tools for New Health Rules

January 31, 2011

The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans have been released, urging us all to change what we eat for better health. Rules alone aren’t enough, though. We need tools to help us make these changes easily, and non-profit educational organization Oldways has practical and proven tools to lead the way.

The new Dietary Guidelines, for example, advocate the importance of total diet, and tout the Mediterranean Diet as one of the most thoroughly-researched models for healthy eating – now recommending it, along with the DASH diet and the USDA Eating Pattern. At a time when the government’s official healthy eating pyramid shows only enigmatic colored stripes, Oldways’ Mediterranean Diet Pyramid is lushly illustrated with specific foods, depicting the many appealing choices that make up a balanced diet.

“Our Mediterranean Diet Pyramid holds the answer to many of the issues raised in the new Guidelines and is an at-a-glance guide to healthy eating,” said Oldways President Sara Baer-Sinnott. “The Guidelines call for a big decrease in sodium, for instance, and the Med Diet’s emphasis on full-flavored whole foods, herbs and spices, and home cooking offers many ways to enjoy lots of taste with little or no sodium.”

Baer-Sinnott also mentioned the key role of seafood in the Med Diet, a role reinforced by the new Guidelines’ assertion that seafood’s many health benefits outweigh its limited risks.

To support the new dietary recommendations, Oldways will step up its outreach, with a plan to deliver a million Med Pyramids to American households. To meet the needs of a diverse population, Oldways also offers other healthy diet pyramids, including the Latin-American Diet Pyramid, the Asian Diet Pyramid, and the Vegetarian Pyramid.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines also include a renewed commitment to recognizing whole grains as the new norm. The Whole Grain Stamp, from Oldways’ Whole Grains Council, now identifies more than 4,700 whole grain products in the U.S. and 20 other countries. This familiar packaging symbol makes it quick and easy for consumers to find foods offering at least half a serving of whole grains.  The new Guidelines clarify the definition of a whole grain food, citing “at least 8 grams of whole grain” – the standard for the Whole Grain Stamp – as one way to identify whole grains.

Healthy carbohydrates overall got a big boost, as the new Dietary Guidelines confirmed that it’s the quality and quantity of the foods we eat – not carbohydrates – that make us fat. That’s the same conclusion reinforced last October at a scientific conference convened in Brazil by Oldways, when 17 scientists from 13 countries presented the latest research on carbohydrate digestion. In the Scientific Consensus Statement from the meeting, experts agreed that “many clinical trials confirm that excess calories, and not carbohydrates, are responsible for obesity” and that “healthy pasta meals are a delicious way to eat more vegetables, legumes and other healthy foods often underconsumed.” The Consensus Statement summarized the research in a form that can be used by doctors, health professionals, dietitians, scientists, media, the food industry, and consumers.

Willpower and personal responsibility are not enough to move toward healthier eating, according to the new Dietary Guidelines; industry must step up to the plate by offering healthier foods. Oldways has a long history of supporting food companies’ efforts to do the right thing, most recently with the Better Food Forum, a web-based resource where food companies can post their efforts to improve our food supply – and consumers can see who’s part of the solution. As more companies announce initiatives to make healthier foods, Oldways will regularly update this valuable resource as an industry-wide scorecard.

Oldways also salutes the new Dietary Guidelines’ emphasis on the pleasures of the table, and on the importance of home cooking for better health. “At the end of the day, food is meant to be enjoyed,” said Cynthia Harriman, Director of Food & Nutrition Strategies for Oldways. “Scolding people for what they eat, or promoting unpalatable and unsustainable fad diets, is never productive. Oldways looks forward to continuing to help Americans realize how delicious healthy food can be.”

Consumers, health professionals, companies and other groups can stay in touch about the latest food industry updates, access Oldways’ educational tools, and show their support for the Dietary Guidelines by taking the Three Point Pledge.

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 1, 2011 6:03 pm

    Could be hard to find competent persons on that topic, you sound like you understand what you are referring to! Bless you

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