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FDA updates guidelines for what is considered ‘healthy.’ Here’s what you need to know

The FDA has updated its guidelines on what is considered healthy. Here’s everything you need to know, and some healthy eating tips

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The FDA has updated its guidelines on what is considered healthy.

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In a statement released Wednesday, the FDA said, “More than 80% of people in the U.S. aren’t eating enough vegetables, fruit and dairy. And most people consume too much added sugars, saturated fat and sodium.” In response to this and diet-related chronic illnesses, the FDA has updated the guidelines for what it considers to be healthy.

According to the FDA, this change has to do with what will appear on nutritional labels of packaged foods. If FDA-approved products are to still have the word “healthy” on their labels, they will need to follow certain new standards.

What has changed according to the FDA?

The FDA released a statement that details this change. Here are the highlights of what is now considered healthy:

  • The item has to contain a meaningful amount of food from one of the food groups or subgroups, such as dairy, grains or vegetables.
  • There will now be stricter limitations on saturated fat, sodium and added sugar.
  • The FDA used cereal as an example, saying that “a cereal would need to contain ¾ ounces of whole grains and contain no more than 1 gram of saturated fat, 230 milligrams of sodium and 2.5 grams of added sugars” in order to be labeled “healthy.”

What are experts saying about this?

A couple of experts have spoken about the need for specificity on labels to help Americans make better food choices.

  • Eva Greenthal from the Center for Science in the Public Interest spoke with CNN and said that a better policy would be to have labels similar to what is used in the UK or Mexico. These labels inform consumers when a product has a high amount of a certain ingredient, like added sugar.
  • Peter Lurie, also from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, commented to The Washington Post that the guidelines for the labels need to be specific. Otherwise, he said, some companies might try to “health-wash” foods — meaning the companies might try to make unhealthy foods appear healthier than they are.

How to eat healthy: healthy eating tips

There are a few tricks and tips that you could implement — even starting today — to eat healthier.

  • Make half of your plate vegetables.
  • Swap out a processed snack like chips for a healthier alternative, like crispy baked chickpeas.
  • Drink more water. If you don’t love the taste of plain water, try adding mint or lemon for flavor.
  • Start off your meal with a broth-based soup or a salad.
  • Try cooking more at home instead of eating out or ordering take-out. If you like french fries, try making a baked version using Russet potatoes or sweet potatoes. Make little changes, like using a whole wheat bun instead of a bun made with white flour.
  • Make desserts that do not have added sugar. For example, try making overnight oats with plain almond milk and adding fruit.