AU-diet

10/6/00

Janet L. McCoy

NEW AHA FOOD GUIDELINES GOOD FOR ALL, AU NUTRITIONISTS SAY

AUBURN -- New guidelines that will make eating right simpler is just what the doctor -- or better yet, the nutritionist -- ordered, say two Auburn University nutrition faculty.

"Anything that will make eating healthier easier so people will be encouraged to do it is good," said Bob Keith, a professor of nutrition and food science. "People have always gotten confused with calculating the 30 percent of calories from fat guideline. Any simple approach is certainly easier for people to understand."

The American Heart Association has revised its influential dietary guidelines stressing common sense in choosing daily fare and downplaying complicated percentages of fat or nutrients. It's the first significant revision in four years of the association's guidelines, which are widely mimicked by other health organizations.

The AHA urges a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, lowfat dairy products, fish, lean meats and poultry. Five servings of fruits and vegetables and six servings of grains are recommended daily.

"Anything that simplifies the approach to make it more helpful for people to eat a more balanced menu is good," said Robin Fellers, an associate professor of nutrition and food science at AU. "Now you won't have to be a smart enough mathematician to figure out all the complicated percentages on food labels."

Fellers, a registered dietitian who teaches courses in nutrition education, said while some people thrive on knowing exact percentages of daily fat and caloric intake, "there are a lot for whom it's discouraging and who don't want to be bothered."

Keith, who is an nutrition specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, said he's encouraged by the AHA's new recommendation of adding two weekly serving of fatty fish, such as tuna or salmon, that are high in Omega 3 fatty acids and good for the heart.

"In the past, eating fish has been something hard for Americans to do because we're not a country that eats a lot of fish," he said. "With the recommendation of fish like salmon and tuna, it will encourage more people.

"And still, it's nothing to count. If you know all you have to do is add two servings a week, then people are more likely to eat a tuna sandwich or tuna casserole. You know that if you just do it your chances of being healthier are better."

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CONTACT: Fellers, 334/844- 3270 (rfellers@auburn.edu); and Keith, 334/844-3273.