The 5 nutrients you should be concerned about according to the new Dietary Guidelines
How to include more of them in your meals.
Not getting enough of these 5 nutrients may be causing health problems for some of us.
The new Dietary Guidelines for 2015-2020 recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) target five nutrients that Americans should be paying particular attention to. Far too many of us still do not eat enough vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and dairy foods.
1. Dietary fiber
Dietary fiber can aid in maintaining the health of the intestinal tract, as well as help control cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Low intakes are due to too few vegetables, fruits, and whole grains in the diet, says USDA.
This mineral is important for bone health and may help prevent colon cancer. Low intakes of calcium are due to low intakes of dairy, USDA notes.
3. Vitamin D
Also important for bone health, vitamin D is unique among vitamins because sunlight on the skin enables the body to make vitamin D. Recommendations for vitamin D assume minimum sun exposure.
Ways to consume higher levels of vitamin D, recommended by USDA, include choosing seafood with higher amounts of the vitamin, such as salmon, herring, mackerel, and tuna, and more foods fortified with the vitamin, especially fluid milk, soy beverage (soymilk), yogurt, orange juice, and breakfast cereals.
In some cases, taking a vitamin D supplement may be sensible, especially when sunshine exposure is limited during the winter or due to the use of sunscreen.
This mineral is important for maintaining healthy blood pressure. To increase potassium in the diet, USDA recommends focusing on food choices with the most potassium, such as white potatoes, beet greens, white beans, plain yogurt, and sweet potato. See below for the Dietary Guidelines’ list of the 15 foods richest in potassium.
For young children, women capable of becoming pregnant, and women who are pregnant, USDA says that a low intake of iron puts them at risk of iron-deficiency anemia. (Most other adults get plenty of iron.)
To avoid anemia, USDA recommends that women and adolescent girls consume foods containing heme iron (the kind found in animal foods), such as lean meats, poultry, and seafood, because this kind is more readily absorbed by the body.
Additional non-heme iron sources include legumes (beans and peas) and dark-green vegetables, as well as foods enriched or fortified with iron, such as many breads and ready-to-eat cereals. Absorption of iron from non-heme sources is increased by consuming them along with vitamin C-rich foods.
Women who are pregnant should also take an iron supplement if that’s recommended by their obstetrician or other health care provider, USDA adds.
The best sources of potassium:
Food sources ranked by amounts of potassium and energy per standard food portions and per 100 grams of food.
|Food||Standard Portion Size||Calories in Standard Portion Size||Potassium in Standard Portion (mg)||Calories per 100 grams|
|Potato, baked, flesh and skin||1 medium||163||941||94|
|Prune juice, canned||1 cup||182||707||71|
|Carrot juice, canned||1 cup||94||689||40|
|Passion-fruit juice, yellow or purple||1 cup||126-148||687||51-60|
|Tomato paste, canned||1/4 cup||54||669||82|
|Beet greens, cooked from fresh||1/2 cup||19||654||27|
|Adzuki beans, cooked||1/2 cup||147||612||128|
|White beans, canned||1/2 cup||149||595||114|
|Plain yogurt, nonfat||1 cup||127||579||56|
|Tomato puree||1/2 cup||48||549||38|
|Sweet potato, baked in skin||1 medium||103||542||90|
|Salmon, Atlantic, wild, cooked||3 ounces||155||534||182|
|Clams, canned||3 ounces||121||534||142|
|Pomegranate juice||1 cup||134||533||54|
|Plain yogurt, low-fat||8 ounces||143||531||63|
Find this article about food and health interesting and useful? Nutrition Action Healthletter subscribers regularly get sound, timely information about staying healthy with diet and exercise, delicious recipes, and detailed analyses of the healthy and unhealthy foods in supermarkets and restaurants. If you’re not already subscribing to the world’s most popular nutrition newsletter, click here to join hundreds of thousands of fellow health-minded consumers.