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Lean meat makes the cut in dietary guidelines

The newest federal dietary guidelines, which influence consumer diets and medical recommendations and form the basis of federal nutrition programs, retain the same levels of recommended meat consumption as the previous guidelines.
Carol Ryan Dumas

Capital Press

Published on January 11, 2016 9:44AM


Organizations representing the U.S. meat industry are pleased with the fare served up in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommend 26 ounces of lean meat, poultry and eggs per week in a healthful 2,000 calorie-a-day diet.

Meat producers and processors came out with gloves off last February when the DGA Advisory Committee recommended Americans needed to lower their intake of red and processed meat, contending the committee ignored data showing the health benefits of beef and pork.

USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services didn’t follow that recommendation and kept the guideline for the meat group at the previous level.

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and North American Meat Association applauded the agencies for ensuring the final recommendations — affirming the nutrition of meat — were based on science.

“I was really glad to see the nutritional guidelines recognize all the strong science that supports the role that beef plays in a healthy diet,” Richard Thorpe, a physician and Texas cattle producer, said in a video posted by NCBA.

“There have been tremendous amounts of research and scientific evidence on the value and nutrition of beef and today, not only do you get to enjoy the great taste of beef but you also can be very confident that it’s very healthy for you,” he said.

Meat and poultry products are among the most nutrient-dense foods available and are rich sources of complete protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins, Meat Institute President and CEO Barry Carpenter said in a written statement.

“The dietary guidelines confirm that a variety of dietary patterns can be followed to achieve a healthy eating pattern. Consumers who choose to eat meat and poultry, as 95 percent of Americans do, can continue to enjoy our products as they have in the past,” he said.

Meat consumption wasn’t completely unscathed in the guidelines, however. The agencies advised some individuals, especially teen boys and adult men, need to reduce overall consumption of protein by decreasing their intake of meat, poultry and eggs and increasing intakes of vegetables and other under-consumed food groups.

They also said while average intake of total protein foods is close to recommendations, average seafood intake is below recommendations for all age-sex groups and shifts are needed within the protein foods group to increase seafood intake.

The guidelines also came with a warning of sorts.

“Strong evidence from mostly prospective cohort studies but also randomized controlled trials has shown that eating patterns that include lower intake of meats as well as processed meats and processed poultry are associated with reduced risk of CVD (cardiovascular disease) in adults.”

In addition, “moderate evidence indicates that these eating patterns are associated with reduced risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer in adults.”

The agencies did, however, acknowledge that much of the research on lower meat consumption grouped together all meats and poultry regardless of fat content or how they were processed.

“In separate analyses, food pattern modeling has demonstrated that lean meats and lean poultry can contribute important nutrients within limits for sodium, calories from saturated fats and added sugars, and total calories when consumed in recommended amounts in healthy eating patterns … ,” the guidelines state.

The recommendations also advise restricting saturated fats and added sugars to less than 10 percent of total calories per day each and sodium to less than 2,300 milligrams per day.



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