Dietary Guidelines: How to follow?

Every five years since 1980, there is a new version of dietary guidelines for American. The latest is the 8th edition given in 2015. For decades, people follow this guideline for the intake of salt, sugar, fat, cholesterol, and watch their total daily calories. The 2015 guideline came with an ease on cholesterol, fat and salt, and new limits on added sugar consumption.

Egg and shrimp lovers have no need to worry about their intake of the “bad” cholesterol any more. Decades of research has shown that dietary cholesterol has little or no effect on the blood cholesterol levels of most people. Studies also show too little salt may be as bad as too much if not worse. Not mention that the low-sodium product often contain more artificial food additives to achieve the same effects from salt.

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Milk: Overconsumed “Healthy Food”

For decades, milk has been promoted as an essential daily food for good bone health, and the USDA’s dietary guidelines suggest 3 cups a day for an adult. I was shocked to see people drink it like drinking water when I first came to the states. Is that too much? More and more scientific studies suggest yes to this question. Milk may have some benefits for certain people but its effects are certainly exaggerated for other purpose than bone health. Little evidence shows the linkage between milk consumption and reduced risk of fractures, which is the main argument of  USDA’s recommendation. In contrast, more and more researches indicate the opposite effect to one’s health, e.g. too much milk consumption associated higher risk of certain cancers (fatal prostate, ovarian cancers etc.), a higher risk of fracture esp. in women, and even an increased risk of death in some study.

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Eggs: More Beneficial Nutrients than Cholesterol Fears

Eggs were once discouraged by American Heart Association (AHA) because of their cholesterol-rich yolk since 1970s. Since then, egg, the popular nutritional food in Chinese diet, was considered off the limits by many people, and on the black-list of healthy food.  Fortunately, clinical studies do not support this claim. In contrast, research results show that dietary cholesterol from eggs, shrimp and other animal foods only modestly affects blood cholesterol. A recent study even found that consuming an egg a day is not bad for heart for most people. Now eggs have off the condemning-list of the AHA. The beneficial nutrients in egg yolks such as protein, riboflavin, folate, vitamin D and B12 may counter the effects of cholesterol.

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Seaweed, Sea Vegetable 海带,海里生长的蔬菜

Seaweed, or sea vegetable has been always part of traditional Chinese diet, and other Asian diets. It is often overlooked in western diet, but has gained more and more reputation recent years because of its nutritional benefits. Seaweed is a good source of daily iodine need of our body, which is hard to come by in other foods. Seaweed is also high in calcium and protein. In my opinion, it’s a good alternative of milk, and natural way to intake calcium than a calcium pill. Sea vegetable also contains a good amount of vitamins B12 and A. It is also a great source of fiber, mostly soluble fiber, which will turn into a gel, and slow down the digestive process, thus inhibit the absorption of sugars and cholesterol. Seaweed is really a hidden treasure in vegetables.

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