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New Eatwell Guide illustrates a healthy, balanced diet

New Eatwell Guide says a healthy diet should now include more fruit, vegetables and starchy carbohydrates, and fewer sugary foods and drinks.

Following today’s (17 March 2016) launch of the new Eatwell Guide by Public Health England (PHE), a healthy diet should now include more fruit, vegetables and starchy carbohydrates and have fewer sugary foods and drinks.

The new Eatwell Guide shows the revised proportions of the food groups that help us meet official advice and nutrient requirements.

The guide replaces the eatwell plate and has been refreshed to reflect updated dietary recommendations, including those on sugar, fibre and starchy carbohydrates from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) report on Carbohydrates and Health in 2015.

There is greater prominence for fruit, vegetables and starchy carbohydrates, preferably wholegrain, in the new guide. PHE recommends consuming 30 grams of fibre a day, the same as eating 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread and 1 large baked potato with the skin on. Currently people only consume around 19 grams of fibre per day, less than 2 thirds the recommendation.

Sugary soft drinks have been removed from the image and foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar have been moved to the periphery of the guide, reflecting advice that they are not an essential part of a healthy and balanced diet. Adults should have less than 6 grams of salt and 20 grams of saturated fat for women or 30 grams for men a day.

PHE also advises limiting the consumption of sugar, for example from sugary drinks and confectionery. Adults have twice as much sugar as is recommended and children have over 3 times. Everyone over the age of 11 should consume less than 30 grams or 7 cubes of sugar a day.

The advice that only a 150ml serving of fruit juice counts as 1 of the recommended 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day is now extended to include smoothies. This is in acknowledgement of the high sugar content of smoothies. The Eatwell Guide now displays drinks recommendations which make clear that adults should be aiming to have 6 to 8 glasses of fluids per day ideally from water, lower fat milks, and unsweetened tea or coffee.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said:

“Our new Eatwell Guide helps people to understand what a healthy balanced diet looks like. The evidence shows that we should continue to base our meals on starchy carbohydrates, especially wholegrain, and eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables each day.

“On the whole, cutting back on foods and drinks that are high in saturated fat, salt, sugar and calories would improve our diets, helping to reduce obesity and the risk of serious illnesses such as heart disease and some cancers. A smoothie, together with fruit juice, now only counts as 1 of your 5 A Day and should be drunk with a meal as it’s high in sugar.”

Dr Lisa Jackson, representing the Association for Nutrition and chair of the external reference groups supporting PHE in this work, said:

“As a GP it is important that I have engaging and meaningful resources like the Eatwell Guide to support my patients to eat more healthily. I encourage professionals helping people to follow a healthy, balanced diet to use the new Eatwell Guide which will help reduce their risk of developing long term illnesses such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers.”

The Eatwell Guide depicts a healthy, balanced diet, which includes:

  • eating at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day
  • basing meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain
  • having some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks) choosing lower fat and lower sugar options
  • eating some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)
  • choosing unsaturated oils and spreads and consuming in small amounts
  • drinking 6 to 8 cups or glasses of fluid a day

If consuming foods and drinks high in fat, salt and sugar then have these less often and in small amounts.

The Government 5 A Day logo has been refreshed and the criteria for use on smoothie products has changed to accommodate the new advice.

Dr Tedstone added:

“Only one in five of us meet the 5 A Day recommendation for fruit and vegetables, which is deeply concerning. PHE has redesigned the 5 A Day logo and made it free and easier to use on packaging. This will help consumers make healthier choices.”

With all fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables counting, there is no better time to improve access to the new logo. Those wishing to use the logo can find out more on the PHE page on GOV.UK.

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