When we eat out at restaurants or buy “fast food,” we don’t have many healthy options. We usually end up with extra-large portions of unhealthy food. Over the past 30 years, portion sizes and calorie count averages of fast food offerings have increased substantially. Most of our home cooking is guided by cookbooks and cooking shows that present recipes that are optimized for variety, taste, and enjoyment, but not for health.

Surveys over the period 2009-2012 showed that where, on average, Americans are getting their calories is far from ideal. Almost half of total energy calories came from these seven categories of food: burgers and sandwiches (13.8%); desserts and sweet snacks (8.5%); sugar-sweetened beverages (6.5%); rice, pasta, and grain-based mixed dishes (5.5%); chips, crackers, and savory snacks (4.6%); pizza(4.3%); and meat, poultry, and seafood mixed dishes (3.9%).

The average American gets about a third of total daily calories by consumption of fat. Some experts recommend that for optimal nutrition, the total amount of fat consumed should be limited to 10% to 15% of total daily calories. Other expertscall for substituting unsaturated fats rather than limiting the amount. There is, however, general agreement on the benefits of limiting trans and saturated fat. Yet a high proportion (71%) of the American population consumes more than the 2015DGAC recommended maximum of 10% of daily calories from saturated fat. The American Heart Association recommendation is even lower, only 5% to 6% of daily calories should be supplied by saturated fat.

U.S. sugar consumption averages about 66 pounds a year per person or 19.5 teaspoons (32 grams), supplying 328 calories a day. This greatly exceeds the recommended100 calories per day for women and 150 calories per day for men and the recommendation that, ideally, only 5% of daily calories should come from added sugars.

The typical American’s diet far exceeds recommended levels of salt. Americans consume an average of 8,500 milligrams (8.5 gm) of salt (sodium chloride) a day. The American Heart Association recommends 2,400, or even better, a 1,500 mg of sodium per day limit for everyone, including children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that most adults in the U.S. consume fewer than the recommended number of servings of fruits (2 cups/day for a 2400 calorie diet) and vegetables (3 cups/day for a 2400 calorie diet). A 2013survey found that fewer than 15% of U.S. citizens had the recommended fruit intake, and only 8.9% met the recommendations for vegetables.23 24 Only in a few age ranges do as many as 20% of older Americans meet the recommended goals for either fruit or vegetables.

A word of warning: Anyone taking medication or with a health problem should obtain medical advice and supervision when changing their diet.

This blog presents opinions and ideas and is intended to provide helpful general information.  I am not engaged in rendering advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures and suggestions in that are presented are not in any way a substitute for the advice and care of the reader’s own physician or other medical professional based on the reader’s own individual conditions, symptoms or concerns. If the reader needs personal medical, health, dietary, exercise or other assistance or advice the reader should consult a physician and/or other qualified health professionals. The author specifically disclaims all responsibility for any injury, damage or loss that the reader may incur as a direct or indirect consequence of following any directions or suggestions given in the book or participating in any programs described in this blog or in the book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Wellness with a Lifestyle Checklist. References for most of the health related information in this blog can be found in the book, The Building Blocks of Health now available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Building-Blocks-Health-Lifestyle-Checklist-ebook/dp/B08RC3XRCY/. Copyright 2020 by J. Joseph Speidel.