Guidelines promote seafood, vitamin D intake

by Jeff Gelski
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WASHINGTON – The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans include a new quantitative recommendation for seafood intake. The recommendation of 8 oz or more per week (less for young children) is more than twice the current mean intake of 3.5 oz per week in the United States.

About 20% of total recommended intake of protein foods should come from a variety of seafood, which contributes a range of nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, according to the guidelines. Moderate evidence shows consuming 8 oz per week of a variety of seafood provides on average 250 mg per day of the two omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and is associated with reduced cardiac deaths.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should eat 8 oz to 12 oz of seafood per week from a variety of seafood types. They should limit intake of white (albacore) tuna to 6 oz per week because of its methyl mercury content. They should avoid tilefish, shark, swordfish and king mackerel. Obstetricians and pediatricians should help women who are pregnant or breastfeeding make healthy food choices that include seafood, according to the guidelines.

Some kinds of fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel and tuna are also natural sources of vitamin D.

The 2010 guidelines add vitamin D as a nutrient of low enough intake to be a health concern for both adults and children. The 2005 guidelines recommended specific groups, including the elderly and people with dark skin, increase their vitamin D intake. Besides vitamin D, the 2010 guidelines list potassium, dietary fiber and calcium as nutrients of public health concern for both adults and children.

Also new, when compared to the 2005 D.G.A.s, the 2010 guidelines add that Americans should increase consumption of beans and peas because of their various nutrients and that Americans should differentiate between 100% juice drinks and sweetened juice products.

Beans and peas are excellent sources of dietary fiber and nutrients such as potassium and folate, according to the guidelines. They are excellent sources of protein and provide other nutrients such as iron and zinc.

The guidelines define beans and peas as mature forms of legumes. They include kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), lima beans, black-eyed peas, split peas and lentils. Green beans, however, are grouped with other vegetables such as onions, lettuce, celery and cabbage because they all have similar nutrient contents. Green peas are grouped with starchy vegetables.

The 2010 guidelines offer a distinction between fruit juices and juice drinks.

“Sweetened juice products with minimal juice content, such as juice drinks, are considered sugar-sweetened beverages rather than fruit juices,” the guidelines said.

While the guidelines recommend 100% juice consumption over sweetened juice product consumption, they also recommend the majority of fruit consumed should come from whole fruits, including fresh, canned, frozen and dried forms, rather than from juice.

“Although 100% fruit juice can be part of a healthful diet, it lacks dietary fiber and when consumed in excess can contribute extra calories,” the guidelines said.

The 2010 D.G.A. also include a number of nutrient recommendations similar to those contained in the 2005 guidelines, including:

• Americans should eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, which include such nutrients as folate, magnesium, potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K.
• At least half of all grains that Americans eat should be whole grains, which are a source of nutrients such as iron, magnesium, selenium, the B vitamins and dietary fiber. When refined grains are eaten, they should be enriched.
• Americans should increase intake of fat-free or low-fat milk. Milk and milk products contribute such nutrients as calcium, vitamin D and potassium. The 2010 guidelines recommend people select more fat-free or low-fat fluid milk or yogurt rather than cheese. Such selections should increase their intake of potassium, vitamin A and vitamin D and decrease their intake of sodium, cholesterol and saturated fatty acids.
• Nuts and seeds, which are high in calories, should be eaten in small portions and used to replace other protein foods, like some meat or poultry, rather than being added to the diet. Moderate evidence indicates eating peanuts and certain tree nuts reduces risk factors for cardiovascular disease when consumed as part of a diet that is nutritionally adequate and within calorie needs,
• Replacing some meats and poultry with seafood or unsalted nuts is a way to replace solid fats with oils, another recommendation of the 2010 guidelines. Americans also should use vegetable oils instead of solid fats when cooking.

Like the 2005 guidelines, the 2010 guidelines address specific groups. For example, women who are pregnant should consume 400 micrograms per day of synthetic folic acid from fortified foods and/or supplements. Also, people age 50 and older should consume foods fortified with vitamin B12, such as fortified cereal or dietary supplements.

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