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Surprises in Proposed New Dietary Guidelines

Feb. 26, 2015 — Eggs are no longer bad guys. Coffee with those eggs? Go ahead, have a cup, maybe even three.

Those are among the latest recommendations an expert advisory panel has made for the upcoming “2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans” — and the group’s report is turning some conventional thinking on its head.


The panel’s advice is under review by the Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA, which will issue the guidelines jointly later this year. The guidelines are published every 5 years, and they reflect the latest science-based evidence about what we eat. They can help people make healthy food choices through the USDA’s MyPlate program. 

The advisory committee’s new report puts an emphasis on eating a plant-based diet, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. But some so-called “bad” foods are back on the menu, too.

“The 2015 report reinforced much of what we saw in 2010,” such as the need for people to eat more plant-based meals, says Connie Diekman, RD, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis. But there are notable additions, such as the goal of eating without depleting environmental resources. “The mention of sustainability is new. No previous guidelines addressed it,” she says.

Other unexpected recommendations include:

Caffeine is OK (within reason). For healthy adults, it’s all right to have up to 400 milligrams a day, or about three to five cups of coffee. This doesn’t apply to children and teens.

Coffee lovers still need to be aware of what they add to their java, says Sonya Angelone, RDN, a registered dietician in the San Francisco Bay area. Coffee with sugar and creamer added, or designer coffee drinks, can be loaded with calories and fat, she says.

Cholesterol is no longer a villain. The 2010 guidelines suggested we should limit cholesterol from foods to no more than 300 milligrams daily. (A large egg has about 186 mg of cholesterol.) Experts now say cholesterol is ”not a nutrient of concern,” because cholesterol from foods doesn’t cause higher blood cholesterol levels.

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