"There are so many different messages about nutrition out there these days," says TIME medical columnist Christine Gorman, "that anything that tries to unify recommendations is welcome." To be useful, the Unified Dietary Guidelines go beyond percentages of calories and milligrams to give more concrete advice. Among the suggestions: Choose most of what you eat from plant sources and eat high-fat foods sparingly, especially those from animal sources. The guidelines also give suggested servings. But pay attention to what one serving means, says Gorman. It doesnít mean a glop of food on a plate. "For fruit and vegetables, it usually means half a cup," she says, "for meat, it means about three ounces." The full guidelines will be published in the July 27 issue of the American Heart Associationís journal, Circulation.
In this age of mega-mergers comes news of a consolidation of sorts among five of the nationís top health organizations. The American Cancer, Dietetic and Heart associations, together with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Institutes of Health, have joined forces to endorse a common eating plan. The Unified Dietary Guidelines break no new ground, but they bring together under one program the various daily recommendations of each organization: For example, the guidelines propose that a person consume no more than 30 percent of calories from all types of fat (and no more than 10 percent from saturated fat), that cholesterol be limited to no more than 300 milligrams, and that 55 percent of calories come from the complex carbohydrates found in cereal, grains, fruits and vegetables.