Eggs are back, indeed, as many headlines are celebrating today. And aspartame is probably okay in moderation, though artificial sweeteners should not be promoted in approaches to weight loss. Coffee and tea get a more conclusive pass, as does moderate alcohol, though no one is encouraged to start drinking if they don't already. But the most important, most definitive tenets of eating well—according to new 2015 federal dietary recommendations, released today—are the time-tested basics: moderation and a focus on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Which sounds a little banal, but it's also grounding in its consistency, in a world of sensational dietary trends and best-selling celebrity whims.
Because the body of evidence in nutrition science is constantly, insistently growing, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services convene experts from academic institutions across the country every five years to decide what exactly constitutes a healthy diet. The group's mission is, specifically, to identify the "foods and beverages that help [people to] achieve and maintain a healthy weight, promote health, and prevent disease."
The 15-person advisory committee's new recommendations are emblematic of an essential ongoing shift in approaches to eating: focusing on whole foods, as opposed to avoiding or endorsing specific macronutrients (carbs, fat, or protein). Where nutrients are mentioned in the committee's recommendations, there are a few notable moves. Cholesterol in food is no longer cause for concern—vindicating the once-forsaken egg yolk and its arbitrary "62-percent daily value" of cholesterol, as current nutrition labels read. Only certain kinds of dietary fat (trans and saturated) are to be minimized, and whole grains are—starkly counter to the national trend in low-carb and gluten-averse ideologies—second only to fruits and vegetables as the most "health-promoting" foods that a person can eat.