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2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines Encourage Sustainable Eating


Proposed changes to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines include a discussion on environmentally sustainable food production. This increased focus on sustainable eating could mean that we’ll be seeing more U.S. food manufacturers choosing to use Malaysian sustainable palm oil in their recipes.

In its executive summary, the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion committee commented that, “Linking health, dietary guidance and the environment will promote human health and the sustainability of natural resources and ensure current and long-term food security.”

The committee also noted nutrients of concern, including vitamins A and E. Palm oil is one of nature’s richest sources of beta carotene – the precursor that helps our bodies manufacture vitamin A – as well as vitamin E tocopherols and tocotrienols. In fact, palm oil is one of the best sources of tocotrienols. Studies have shown that these nutritional powerhouses help to protect our brains from developing white matter lesions, which may lead to stroke and degenerative brain diseases. Tocotrienols also help to protect our brains should we have a stroke, and may help us actually recover faster. Good to know, right?

The committee is calling for America to make a strong paradigm shift toward a “culture of health”. That means embracing a lifestyle that puts a priority on physical activity, and reducing intake of salt and sugar as part of achieving a more balanced diet. Moderation – portion control – is still the key.

But the 2015 Guidelines also strive to make it easier for us to make smarter food decisions by having better food labeling so we know exactly what’s inside. The Guidelines also encourage the food industry to, “make changes to certain foods to improve their nutrition profile.”

They point out that what’s good for our health is also good for the planet. “Research evidence is converging to show that healthy dietary patterns also are more sustainable and associated with more favorable health as well as environmental outcomes.”

By Dr Kalyana Sundram

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