Originally published March 10 2011
New government dietary guidelines protect industry profits over health
by T.M. Hartle
(NaturalNews) Despite some sound advice, the new USDA dietary guidelines released in January fail in their attempt to help Americans make healthy food choices. The guidelines encourage Americans to increase fruit and vegetable intake to help protect against disease. This important issue needed to be addressed as recent reports stated that the average American consumes a meager one and a half servings of vegetables and one serving of fruit per day. While the recommendation to increase fruits, vegetables and whole grains should be applauded, the new guidelines leave much to be desired in many other aspects.
When the section on foods to reduce is read, you will find a small section advising the reduction of trans fatty acids. While it may be common knowledge among the health savvy that trans fatty acids are a health risk, the USDA glosses over this topic. The new guidelines state, "There is limited evidence to conclude whether synthetic and natural trans fatty acids differ in their metabolic effects and health outcomes."
There may be little research on the differing effects of natural or synthetic trans fats, but the point still remains that health effects have been noted and trans fats are best avoided. Labeling laws for trans fats have changed for processed foods, but has this really resulted in reduced consumption? The solution offered in the new guidelines for reducing trans fatty acids was to consume low fat dairy and meat products. It is claimed in this section that trans fatty acids have been reduced in the food supply since 2006 because of food labeling laws requiring trans fatty acids to be listed on nutrition labels. However, food companies have found loopholes in this law that allow them to continue using hydrogenated oils without having to list trans fats on labels.
Companies mask the hydrogenated oil content by adjusting the serving size until only half of a gram of trans fats are in each serving, and therefore they can list zero trans fats on the nutrition label. These dietary guidelines do not address the most significant risks to the health of Americans because there are financial conflicts of interest.
Americans consume 31% more processed food than they do fresh whole foods. The only way to avoid trans fatty acids in a processed food focused diet is to read the entire ingredients label of every food item. Most Americans are not going to take the time to read the ingredients of every processed food that gets tossed into their shopping cart.
Instead of making the recommendation to consume low-fat dairy and meat, which is moot in terms of optimal health, Americans should be encouraged to eliminate processed food consumption. The guidelines state that Americans need to reduce sugar, solid fat, sodium, trans fats, saturated fats and other foods linked to health problems. The recommendations the USDA makes for reducing these foods takes the focus off the real culprit, processed foods, and places it elsewhere, thereby protecting industry profit interests at the expense of those who are honestly seeking to improve their health.
The new dietary guidelines do not offer legitimate advice on how Americans can truly achieve optimal health because to do so would dramatically cut into the profits of large food industry corporations. We cannot rely on the government to put our health at the top of their agenda when large industries stand to profit from our ignorance about our food choices.
About the authorT.M. Hartle has a Bachelors degree in Natural Health Science with a concentration in Clinical Nutrition as well as a Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition from Cornell University. She is a student midwife who teaches pregnancy nutrition courses to midwives and childbirth educators throughout the country. She has a certificate in the Essentials of raw culinary arts from Living Light Culinary Arts Institute and is the Owner and Chef of The Peaceful Kitchen. http://www.thepeacefulkitchen.blogspot.com
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