Every five years the country gets new evidence-based guidelines, called Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs), for how we should be eating to improve our overall health and prevent disease. The DGAs are based on the consensus of a committee of nutrition and health experts. These experts write a report about the state of the health of Americans and what research has uncovered since the previously published DGAs. With the expert committee’s input, the DGAs are written and published collaboratively by USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services.
The guidelines are broken down into stages of life and help pair nutrition and lifestyle advice with our changing needs. In the past, the DGAs were devoted to advice for healthy Americans ages 2 years and up but in 2020, for the first time, the DGAs also included advice for babies from birth to 2 years and pregnant women. This amounts to really big news for baby! Among the advice for pregnant women, the guidelines highlighted that there is no need for mothers to avoid any specific foods to try to prevent food allergies (unless she is allergic herself). The recommendations for birth through 2 years of age include breastfeeding for the first year or formula feeding if that’s not possible. In addition, complementary foods are recommended, including the early introduction of peanuts and other potential allergens (page 5). The guidelines also recommend zero added sugar in the diets of children under 2 years of age and limiting it even after that.
Make every bite count with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans:
For all stages of life there are some overarching recommendations that fall under the following four guidelines:
- Follow a healthy dietary pattern at every life stage.
- Customize and enjoy nutrient-dense food and beverage choices to reflect personal preferences, cultural traditions and budgetary considerations.
- Focus on meeting food group needs with nutrient-dense foods and beverages and stay within calorie limits.
- Limit foods and beverages higher in added sugars, saturated fat and sodium, and limit alcoholic beverages.
More Great News?
Peanut foods can fit into all of these recommendations to help support the health of Americans. Moreover, because these guidelines help shape federal nutrition programs, these latest recommendations should help provide guidance for updating the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) food packages offered to families, since at present they do not include peanut butter for children under 1 to 2 years of age. At every stage of life, individuals can benefit from the protein, good fats and micronutrients found in peanuts. In fact, because peanuts come in so many delicious and nutritious forms, including without added salt or sugar, they are a perfect fit from preventing peanut allergies in infants to providing much-needed nutrition for growing children, active adults and aging seniors.
Learn more about the DGAs at DietaryGuidelines.gov.