The 5 nutrients you should be concerned about according to the new Dietary Guidelines

How to include more of them in your meals.


Not getting enough of these 5 nutrients may be causing health problems for some of us.

The new Dietary Guidelines for 2015-2020 recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) target five nutrients that Americans should be paying particular attention to.  Far too many of us still do not eat enough vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and dairy foods.


1. Dietary fiber 

Dietary fiber can aid in maintaining the health of the intestinal tract, as well as help control cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Low intakes are due to too few vegetables, fruits, and whole grains in the diet, says USDA.

2. Calcium 

This mineral is important for bone health and may help prevent colon cancer. Low intakes of calcium are due to low intakes of dairy, USDA notes.

3. Vitamin D

Also important for bone health, vitamin D is unique among vitamins because sunlight on the skin enables the body to make vitamin D. Recommendations for vitamin D assume minimum sun exposure.

Ways to consume higher levels of vitamin D, recommended by USDA, include choosing seafood with higher amounts of the vitamin, such as salmon, herring, mackerel, and tuna, and more foods fortified with the vitamin, especially fluid milk, soy beverage (soymilk), yogurt, orange juice, and breakfast cereals.

In some cases, taking a vitamin D supplement may be sensible, especially when sunshine exposure is limited during the winter or due to the use of sunscreen.

4. Potassium

This mineral is important for maintaining healthy blood pressure. To increase potassium in the diet, USDA recommends focusing on food choices with the most potassium, such as white potatoes, beet greens, white beans, plain yogurt, and sweet potato. See below for the Dietary Guidelines’ list of the 15 foods richest in potassium.

5. Iron

For young children, women capable of becoming pregnant, and women who are pregnant, USDA says that a low intake of iron puts them at risk of iron-deficiency anemia. (Most other adults get plenty of iron.)

To avoid anemia, USDA recommends that women and adolescent girls consume foods containing heme iron (the kind found in animal foods), such as lean meats, poultry, and seafood, because this kind is more readily absorbed by the body.

Additional non-heme iron sources include legumes (beans and peas) and dark-green vegetables, as well as foods enriched or fortified with iron, such as many breads and ready-to-eat cereals. Absorption of iron from non-heme sources is increased by consuming them along with vitamin C-rich foods.

Women who are pregnant should also take an iron supplement if that’s recommended by their obstetrician or other health care provider, USDA adds.

 The best sources of potassium:

Food sources ranked by amounts of potassium and energy per standard food portions and per 100 grams of food. 

Food Standard Portion Size Calories in Standard Portion Size Potassium in Standard Portion (mg) Calories per 100 grams
Potato, baked, flesh and skin 1 medium 163 941 94
Prune juice, canned 1 cup 182 707 71
Carrot juice, canned 1 cup 94 689 40
Passion-fruit juice, yellow or purple 1 cup 126-148 687 51-60
Tomato paste, canned 1/4 cup 54 669 82
Beet greens, cooked from fresh 1/2 cup 19 654 27
Adzuki beans, cooked 1/2 cup 147 612 128
White beans, canned 1/2 cup 149 595 114
Plain yogurt, nonfat 1 cup 127 579 56
Tomato puree 1/2 cup 48 549 38
Sweet potato, baked in skin 1 medium 103 542 90
Salmon, Atlantic, wild, cooked 3 ounces 155 534 182
Clams, canned 3 ounces 121 534 142
Pomegranate juice 1 cup 134 533 54
Plain yogurt, low-fat 8 ounces 143 531 63


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