Just when you thought it was OK to pig out on some of Kansas City’s best barbecue, the nanny state wags that “you’ll be sorry” finger at you.
New dietary guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services include a big push-back on saturated fats, and that includes meats, butter, cheeses and high fat dairy products like ice cream and whole milk. The government was smart to not go whole-hog in pushing consumers to cut back specially on meat.
Can you imagine the election year stampede on Congress and the Obama administration that would cause from lobbyists with the cattle, pork and poultry industries? It would be worse than upsetting the National Rifle Association with gun control legislation.
But the new guidelines are pushing Americans more toward a Mediterranean diet of fruits, legumes, vegetables and nuts with liberal use of olive, soybean and nut oils. Don’t forget the moderate fish and chicken side dishes with whole grains and little sugar.
It’s geared toward better health and a longer, more productive life with reductions in cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. By the way, with heart disease fading as the No. 1 killer of Americans, cancer is emerging to claim the title. The death rate for each has dropped in the last three decades, but the decline has been greater for heart disease.
Cancer in 2014 took the No. 1 killer title in 22 states. The cancer death rate since 1991 has dropped 23 percent compared with a 46 percent decline in heart disease deaths.
Just like a reduction in cigarette smoking and other tobacco product use, an improved, healthier diet is certain to benefit Americans overall. Salt remains a “nutrient of concern,” according to the guidelines. Reducing salt always intake matters in heart health and having a better blood pressure.
Some surprises in the new guidelines included it being OK to have as many as five cups of coffee every day. Health experts not only consider that much caffeine safe, but it also appears to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and even guard against Parkinson’s disease.
Also a surprise was it being OK to eat eggs and other foods dripping with cholesterol. That had been a no-no.
The U.S. Dietary Guidelines have been issued every five years since 1980. The nutritional standards get baked into such federal and state programs as school lunches, food stamps, and programs benefiting children and pregnant women.
The hope is that they will change Americans’ eating habits — like limiting sugar intake to 10 percent of daily calories. But like backing away from Kansas City barbecue — the best in the country — that will be hard because barbecue ribs, beef and sausage taste so good.
Also don’t forget that sugar is included in just about all things edible.
Americans’ eating habits have never changed on a dime unless — under doctor’s order — people’s lives depend on it.
But there is always hope.