Since advice about what to eat for optimal health has evolved over time with advances in nutrition science, dietary recommendations are sometimes seen as contradictory. However, a review of three leading dietary guides by researchers at the National Cancer Institute found their essential recommendations are consistent despite the different methodologies used to create the guides.
The NCI researchers compared recommendations and nutrient values of the United States Department of Agriculture's MyPyramid; the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's DASH Eating Plan and Harvard's Healthy Eating Pyramid. The study showed that, even though the guides were derived from different types of nutrition research, they share consistent messages: Eat more fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains; eat less added sugar and saturated fat; and emphasize plant oils.
Recommendations are similar regarding almost all food groups for both types and amounts of foods people should eat. Primary differences were seen in the types of recommended vegetables and protein sources and the amount of recommended dairy products and total oil. Overall nutrient values were also similar for most nutrients, except vitamin A, vitamin E and calcium.
The researchers conclude: "The evidence base for optimal diets continues to evolve. However, inherent in these guides is a pattern of eating that focuses on nutrient-rich foods and limited calories from added sugar and solid fat."
This research was published in the March 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
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