Sunday, November 7, 2010

Big Bad Brother: How the USDA is killing you

I'm so glad this got front-page coverage:  While Warning About Fat, U.S. Pushes Cheese Sales

Essentially, the USDA (the nutrition police behind the food pyramid) has been talking out of both sides of its mouth, advising Americans to cut dairy fat while their marketing arm works with restaurants to increase the amount of cheese in menu options. Turns out if Domino's has a pizza with 40% more cheese Americans will eat at Domino's.

If that wasn't sneaky enough, they have financed studies aimed at documenting how dairy fat can help a person lose weight (actually, it can't, according to other research). So we pour nonfat milk on our granola in the morning and then say yes to sour cream and cheddar at Chipotle at lunch.

It's a sign of progress that Americans now prefer lowfat and nonfat milk. Whole milk isn't even used at Starbucks anymore; 2% is the norm.  But all that skimming leaves dairy farmers (and the government that subsidizes them) with an excess of cream on their hands. That excess is turned ino butter and cheese. And it's got to go somewhere.

The article reports that the nutrition committee of the USDA this summer released new guidelines on saturated fat intake that affirm the way I've been cooking along for as long as I've had a family to cook for: that saturated fat not exceed 15 grams per day for a 2,000-calorie diet. If  2,000 calories is about 500 calories too many for you, you really should not be exceeding 10-12 grams of saturated fat in a day. Allow me to put that into perspective for you:  one large Chipotle chicken burrito on a 13-inch flour tortilla with black beans, rice, cheese, sour cream, and salsa has 18 grams of saturated fat (per Livestrong/The Daily Plate). By either caloric guideline you've already maxed out your saturated fat allowance and it's only lunchtime.

Read more about caloric intake and longevity here.

And I don't mean to harsh on Chitpotle. I really like Chipotle. I use them as as example because they seem like a reasonable lunchtime option. Take that burrito, remove the tortilla, sour cream and cheese and you're down to 3 grams of saturated fat. That's more like it. (I used as source.)

Bottom line, Uncle Sam has cream all over his hands. We've got to take nutrition into our own.

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