New federal dietary guidelines have the food, meat and beverage industries buzzing. Released once every five years, dietary recommendations are updated based on the most recent medical research. A few of the new guidelines came as a surprise to some, yet health experts insist they don’t go far enough to have a significant impact on the overall health of the nation. Here are some of the highlights.

• Men and women of all ages need to seriously cut back on sugar, specifically added sugar. The guidelines recommend that you not let it exceed 10 percent of your daily caloric intake.

• Males ages 14–70 currently consume more than the maximum recommended 34 oz./week of protein via meats, poultry and eggs, and they fall drastically short in their consumption of other protein sources like seafood, nuts and seeds.

• Previous recommendations for a limit on dietary cholesterol of 300 milligrams a day have been removed. The cholesterol limitation was thought to help reduce the risk of heart disease, but now, per the new report: “Adequate evidence is not available for a quantitative limit for dietary cholesterol.”

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For some time, health experts have warned us about the risks of artificial sweeteners. They say the products add unnatural chemicals to our diets and can increase sugar cravings. Now, science is emerging to back up the inclination that these sugary shortcuts are bad news. In fact, a new study suggests artificial sweeteners may even increase the risk of developing diabetes.

In an experiment, mice consumed saccharin (the sweetener found in Sweet’N Low), sucralose (Splenda) or aspartame (Equal) in their water while others drank plain water or water sweetened with glucose or with table sugar. After a week, the mice drinking artificial sweeteners showed a significant intolerance to glucose, meaning they were unable to process large amounts of sugar. Researchers also enlisted seven human volunteers to consume the maximum recommended amount of saccharin for six days. Their blood sugar levels were similarly disrupted.

The experiments’ results do not bode well for Splenda-lovers. An intolerance to glucose, researchers say, can be a precursor to more serious illnesses, including Type 2 diabetes. This is yet another reason to use all sweeteners in moderation and when you do, reach for the real thing.

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