Putting the New Dietary Guidelines to Work for You and Your Family

Pittsburgh, PA - January 12, 2005 - With today's release of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, many consumers may feel overwhelmed with the daunting task of turning sound eating advice into reality. That is why many nutrition experts recommend that Americans give their families “easy access to nutritious foods. Stocking their pantries with a variety of canned fruits, vegetables, beans, chicken and fish is a smart strategy.

In reality, healthful eating and active living - for benefits today, tomorrow and in the future - is easier than many think. "Make the new Dietary Guidelines part of a healthful lifestyle one step at a time - with everyday choices that are right for you," says Roberta Larson Duyff, registered dietitian, author of the award-winning 365 Days of Healthy Eating from the American Dietetic Association and spokesperson for the Canned Food Alliance. A practical, "can-do" approach can lead to success in making advice from today's Dietary Guidelines part of your healthful lifestyle. Small, easy steps to eat smart and move more ultimately can add up to short- and long-term health benefits and perhaps improve the quality of your life.

The updated recommendations are meant to help you make smart food choices from all the food groups, to find your own balance between eating and physical activity, and to help you get the most nutrition from the calories you consume.

Canned foods offer convenient, flavorful choices for stepping up to healthful eating. With these easy tips using canned ingredients, you can start to put advice from the new Dietary Guidelines in action for you and your family:

Tip #1: Plan Ahead for Healthful Eating
  • Making smart choices from every food group, as the Dietary Guidelines advise, ultimately starts with smart shopping! Stock your pantry for convenience and nutrition; look in the canned food aisle for different kinds of fruits, vegetables and beans, as well as lean meats, fish, chicken and turkey. Visit online resources such as www.mealtime.org with databases of healthful, flavorful and easy recipes and food prep tips featuring a variety of nutrient-rich ingredients. Plan your day's food choices to eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods to get enough nourishment and energy to match your level of physical activity.

Tip #2: Fit More In!:
  • Consuming the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables, whole-grain foods and non-fat/low-fat milk helps reduce the risks for some chronic diseases. Yet many Americans short change themselves on these nutrient-rich foods. To meet the new recommendation for fruits and vegetables 4.5 cups daily on a 2,000 calorie-a-day eating plan- enjoy the convenience of canned foods. With more varieties than people realize, they are available year-round. Since they're already cooked in the can, they just need to be served or reheated. Plus, their pre-measured serving sizes are given on the label.

Tip #3: Choose Your Carbs by the Company They Keep
  • Fruits, vegetables and grain products are nutrient-dense - with important vitamins, minerals and fiber, not just carbs. Partner fiber-rich, whole-grain foods (such as brown rice, quinoa or bulgur) with canned vegetables or beans in hearty salads, soups and stews. Top pancakes, cereals, waffles and ice cream with any canned fruits you have on hand, rather than sugary syrups. Instead of soda as a snack, enjoy a fruit smoothie made with any variety of canned fruit or juices.

Tip #4: Make Calories Count!
  • To get the most nutrition from the calories you eat, make small changes - and stick with them – for big results. Cutting back by just 50 to 100 calories a day, perhaps by eating smaller portions or making easy food substitutions, can make a difference if you need to lose weight or keep from gaining. For example, use canned salsa rather than butter or margarine on a baked potato, or chill some canned peaches or other fruits to enjoy in place of a rich dessert. As the low-carb craze slows down, remember that eating fewer calories than you burn is still the key to weight loss. For your good health, get your calories from a variety of nutrient-dense foods.

Tip #5: Get the Power of Omega-3s:
  • Cutting saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol is one road to heart health. Boosting omega-3s (a "good" fat) is another. For their omega-3 benefits, fit canned tuna, salmon and other fatty fish into your weekly meals in casseroles, salads, pasta dishes and stir-fries.  Using canned fish is a convenient and affordable way to reap the benefits of omega-3s.

Tip #6: Watch the Sodium, Boost the Potassium
  • Use food labels to know and compare sodium in foods. Pick no-salt-added or low-sodium food products when you need to cut back. To counteract some effects of sodium on blood pressure, fit in foods that deliver potassium, including canned peaches, tuna, beans, spinach and tomato products.  And season foods you prepare with herbs, spices and juices, rather than salt.

Tip #7: Refresh with Less:
  • If you choose to drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation, notes the Dietary Guidelines. Extend a glass of sparkling wine with 100% fruit juice, canned peach or apricot nectar or cranberry-apple juice. For festive, refreshing non-alcoholic options, just float canned Mandarin orange segments or a peach slice in juice or sparkling water.

Tip #8: Keep It Clean, Chilled and Properly Cooked
  • To prevent food-borne illness, the Dietary Guidelines advise: play it safe with proper food preparation, handling and storage. Clean your hands and cooking surfaces as food-safety essentials. Cook and chill foods properly and avoid cross contamination. Stock your pantry with canned ingredients as a safe food option; the canning process destroys bacteria. (If a can is bulging or if the seal is broken, discard it since it may contain harmful bacteria.)

Although this isn’t about canned ingredients, this too is important Dietary Guidelines advice:

Tip #9: Move It to Be Fit!
  • To help you balance what you eat with how active you are, fit at least 30 minutes of physical activity in your lifestyle most days of the week; more time or more intense activity is better yet. Being active is a powerful way to manage your weight and take control of your health. Overcome couch potato syndrome by mowing the lawn or washing the car instead of watching television, by using the stairs instead of the elevator, by taking a walk around your neighborhood instead of surfing the Internet in your leisure time, or by walking around the office for five minutes instead of taking a coffee or smoking break.
  • "We can control the variety, quality and nutritional value of the meals and the snacks we serve. Keeping a variety of nutrient-dense foods on hand and available in the kitchen pantry makes good nutrition easy," says Duyff. "In addition, preparing food to cut back on salt, added sugars, saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol, and being more physically active are important health messages that the new Dietary Guidelines share with families.

About Canned Food Nutrition

A nutrition study conducted by the University of Massachusetts found that when prepared in a recipe, dishes made with canned ingredients provide comparable nutritional value and flavor appeal to those dishes made with fresh or frozen ingredients. In addition, a nutrition study conducted by the University of Illinois showed that canned fruits and vegetables generally provide as much dietary fiber and nutrients as their cooked fresh and frozen counterparts. The fiber in many convenient canned fruits and vegetables helps combat the risks of heart disease and some types of cancer.

About the Canned Food Alliance

The Canned Food Alliance is a partnership of the American Iron and Steel Institute's Steel Packaging Council, the Can Manufacturers Institute, select food processors and affiliate members. The primary mission of the CFA is to serve as a resource for information on the nutrition, convenience, contemporary appeal and versatility of canned food. For hundreds of mealtime solutions, visit www.mealtime.org.