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Reviewing Dietary Guidelines in Honor of National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month and the perfect time to review the Dietary Guidelines and the ways manufacturers can help consumers meet these dietary goals. For some nutrients, underconsumption is the problem—for others, it’s overconsumption. Here’s a look at strategies manufacturers can use to get consumers’ nutritional health back on track.

The Latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Every five years, the government puts forth a revised Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which contains up-to-date nutrition guidance based on the latest research. The newest version, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020,1 is characterized by its practical, holistic approach designed to encourage a shift toward good nutrition habits through small, simple changes. The five overarching guidelines are:

  1. Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan.
  2. Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount.
  3. Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake.
  4. Shift to healthier food and beverage choices.
  5. Support healthy eating patterns for all.
making notes for National Nutrition Month

Nutrients of Public Health Concern

The Dietary Guidelines also describe healthy eating patterns and identifies five nutrients of public health concern. A nutrient of public concern is defined as a nutrient that is under-consumed by Americans and whose under-consumption is associated with negative health effects. The five nutrients of public health concern are:

  • Dietary fiber
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D
  • Potassium
  • Iron

While the first four are of special concern for the general population, iron is a nutrient of public health concern only for specific segments of the population—young children, pregnant women, and women of childbearing age.

The New Nutrition Label

The nutrients of public health concern identified in the most recent Dietary Guidelines are the basis for the new mandatory label nutrients on the nutrition facts panel. The new nutrition label regulations require these nutrients to be listed (in terms of quantity and % DV) to make consumers more aware of these important shortfall nutrients and to help them choose foods with higher amounts of these nutrients.

The new regulations mean that dietary fiber, calcium, and iron will remain mandatory label nutrients, but vitamins A and C will be replaced with vitamin D and potassium. However, vitamins A and C can still be listed on the nutrition facts panel as voluntary label nutrients.

Boosting Underconsumed Nutrients

Due to mandatory nutrient labeling, a spotlight will be on the nutrients of public health concern. This creates an exciting opportunity for food and beverage manufacturers to positively impact public health by formulating with careful attention to these key nutrients. It also means that as consumers compare these new nutrition facts panels across products, having dietary fiber, calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and/or iron will shift from a nice-to-have to a must-have for manufacturers who wish to remain competitive.

The simplest way to boost any or all of these nutrients in an existing product is with a custom nutrient premix. Once a manufacturer determines the target levels (e.g., 5 grams of fiber and 10% DV of calcium and vitamin D), then a custom nutrient premix can be developed to precisely achieve those levels in the finished product. A custom nutrient premix is pre-blended and ready to add to any product. Nutrients that are reactive like iron or bitter like B vitamins can be microencapsulated before incorporation into the custom nutrient premix to minimize ingredient interactions and off-flavors.

Keeping Overconsumed Nutrients in Check

The Dietary Guidelines also provide examples of healthy eating patterns that incorporate a variety of nutrient-dense foods, are calorie appropriate, and limit certain nutrients that can have harmful effects if overconsumed. The nutrients that should be limited are:

  • Saturated fat (<10% of daily calories)
  • Trans fat (as low as possible)
  • Sodium (<2300 mg daily)
  • Added sugars (<10% of daily calories)

Fortunately, food and beverage manufacturers have more options than ever when it comes to reducing and replacing saturated and trans fats, sodium, and added sugars with minimal impact on flavor, texture, and functionality. Innovations in the flavor industry have made great taste achievable even in challenging formulations, while advances in starches and gums have expanded the range of texture solutions. Other valuable tools in the product developer’s toolkit include potassium salts to support sodium reduction and stevia as a natural way to reduce added sugars.

Support a Healthy Future

Together, food and beverage manufacturers can support a healthier future for Americans. A little more fiber, calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and iron with a little less saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, and added sugars can make a big difference to consumers' health over time.

Give your product line the nutritional boost it needs with a custom nutrient premix from Glanbia! Contact Glanbia Nutritionals to learn more.


References

1. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, 8th Ed. (2015). Retrieved from https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/

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