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A Brief Look at the New Dietary Guidelines

What are the new dietary guidelines?

Nashville, Ark. –

Every five years a panel of nutritionists look at the current dietary guidelines and make suggestions to improve the overall eating patterns of Americans. This process has been in place for many years. In the 1970’s you may recall we had the basic four food groups. In the 1990’s that plan was replaced with the Food Guide Pyramid. Since the mid 2000’s, MyPlate has been the guide for choosing healthy foods.

Choosing healthy foods to eat and the benefits have been well documented. Chronic diseases (diabetes, heart disease, obesity) are a serious health problem that continues to be on the rise. In fact, Arkansas ranks as one of the top states in obesity among adults. Another concern is the rise of type 2 diabetes in children.

When the panel of nutritionists meet, they look at four main areas of focus. They are:

  1. Choose a healthful eating pattern at each stage of life.
  2. Select nutrient-dense foods and use them to build an eating pattern that works for you.
  3. Choose nutrient-dense foods to meet your calorie needs, then stay within that range. In other words, avoid eating more calories than you need.
  4. Limit saturated fats, added sugars, alcohol, and sodium.

Nutrient-dense foods are foods with a high amount of healthful nutrients such as vitamins and minerals in relation to total calories. Nutrient-dense foods are low in saturated fats and added sugars.

One area of focus that was looked at was added sugars. The report proposed limiting added sugars to no more than 6% of total calories, a significant reduction from the 10% advised in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines. However, the recommendation for added sugars did not change.

Added sugar is prevalent in a lot of the foods we eat and drink, especially prepackaged foods and beverages. To improve overall health, limit the amount of added sugars by reading the nutrition facts label to determine how much sugar is in the product. If refined sugars or corn syrup is listed first or second in the ingredient list, you can be assured that product is high in added sugar.

The biggest change in the guidelines is what is called “lifespan approach”. In the past, the guidelines have addressed people age 2 and older. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans looks at science for the entire lifespan, starting at birth.

Another difference is a stronger emphasis on cultural preferences. The new guidelines suggest that people can make their own choices by selecting healthy foods, beverages, meals, and snacks specific to their needs and preferences. In other words, there are healthy food choices in all cultural foods. Choose foods that are nutrient-dense.

Today, more than half of adults have one or more diet-related chronic diseases. The new guidelines focus on healthy individuals, as well as those who are considered overweight or obese and those at risk for developing chronic disease.

To sum it all up; the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines presents overall guidance on choosing nutrient-dense foods and beverages in place of less healthy choices and give special nutrition consideration for people at every stage of life.

You will hear more about the new guidelines in the coming months as information is being made available. In the meantime, you can check out the complete report by searching for the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans at There is a lot of information in this new report.

For more information on choosing a healthy meal plan, contact the Howard County Extension Office a part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture located on the second floor of the courthouse. You may also call our office at 870-845-7517. Another resource to check out is

Chili with Red Beans Recipe

            A favorite wintertime meal is chili. This recipe is delicious while being lower in fat and sodium than traditional chili. It is quick to fix and perfect for weeknight meals.

  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • ½ pound extra-lean ground beef
  • 4 cups or 2 (15-ounce) cans red kidney beans
  • 3 cups or 1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons chili powder
  1. Wash your hands.

  2. Spray Dutch oven or large pot with non-stick cooking spray.

  3. Place chopped onion and ground beef in pot and cook over medium heat. Cook until meat is browned, and onion is soft (about 5 minutes); drain.

  4. Add undrained red kidney beans, tomatoes, garlic powder, and chili powder to cooked ground beef and onions. Stir to mix well.

  5. Bring to a boil and cook slowly for 10-15 minutes. Stir often to prevent chili from sticking to bottom of pot.

                Yields: 8 (1 cup) servings.


  • Drain grease over a bowl. Allow to cool and dispose of in the trash. Do not pour grease down sink as it can clog the sink.
  • Serve with tossed salad, cornbread muffin, and skim milk for a quick meal.
  • Chili may be served over cornbread, tortilla chips, baked potato, or as a part of a taco salad.

Nutrition Information per Serving: 150 calories, 1.5g fat, 12g protein, 22g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 400mg sodium. Excellent source of vitamin C. Good source of iron and vitamin A.

Print this Chili with Red Beans recipe.

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.