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New U.S. Dietary Guidelines: Eat Less Sugar, But Coffee’s Cool

You can drink up to five cups of the delicious stuff per day, federal experts say.

There’d better be skim milk in that coffee! Image via James Joel

The new U.S. dietary guidelines, released by the federal government Thursday, contain some good news and some bad news. The good news is unfortunately brief: Officials from the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services say Americans can safely drink up to five cups of coffee per day. Five cups! Pour us another cup of steaming hot joe and let’s get caffeinated.

In the “maybe good, maybe bad category”: Though government officials recommend lean meats without saturated fats, red meat is no longer in the doghouse. Pork and beef are all right “as long as you don’t overdo it and otherwise have a healthy diet,” The Washington Post reports. Hamburgers, for example, are not an everyday food.

The bad news is more multitudinous—though, in the end, following the guidelines should be much, much better for your health.

First, eat less salt. The average American consumes 3,400 milligrams of salt per day, “an excessive amount,” SFGate reports, “that raises blood pressure and poses health risks.” The new dietary guidelines recommend limiting salt intake to less than 2,300 milligrams a day, regardless of age or health status.

Then, stick to low-fat or skim milk. (No more of this whole-milk business.)

Less of this. Image via Wikimedia Commons user Lauri Andler (Phantom)

Limit saturated fat intake to account for fewer than 10 percent of your calories per day.

The guidelines also recommend no more than one glass of alcohol per day for women, and two for men.

The habit that might prove hardest to break for Americans, however, relates to the new guidelines on sugar. Currently, the average American consumes up to 22 teaspoons of the white stuff each day. If that sounds like a lot, know that two midsize muffins and one cup of sweetened Greek yogurt is all you would need to eat to get to that scary number.

But government officials now recommend that Americans eat only about half that: about 12 teaspoons of sugar per day on a 2,000-calorie diet. The dietary guidelines recommend that sugar be no more than 10 percent of one’s daily caloric intake.

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