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    Oldways’ New Tools Make the Most of Dietary Guidelines

    Touting the Med Diet, whole grains and enjoyment of food will help spur consumer compliance.

    In tandem with the recently released Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Boston-based nonprofit educational organization Oldways is offering tools to help consumers and retailers take full advantage of them, such as its lushly illustrated Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, which depicts specific foods as part of a balanced diet.

    “Our Mediterranean Diet Pyramid holds the answer to many of the issues raised in the new guidelines and is an at-a-glance guide to healthy eating,” noted Oldways president Sara Baer-Sinnott. "The guidelines call for a big decrease in sodium, for instance, and the Med Diet's emphasis on full-flavored whole foods, herbs and spices, and home cooking offers many ways to enjoy lots of taste with little or no sodium.”

    Baer-Sinnott added that the key role of seafood in the Med Diet is bolstered by the new guidelines' assertion that the many nutritional benefits of seafood trump its limited risks.

    In support of the new dietary recommendations, Oldways aims to ramp up its outreach, with a plan to deliver 1 million Med Pyramids to American households. As well as promoting the Med Diet, the organization provides other healthy diet pyramids targeting such groups as Latin Americans, Asians and vegetarians.

    Further, in keeping with the new guidelines’ restated commitment to presenting whole grains as the better choice, the Whole Grain Stamp, from Oldways’ Whole Grains Council, now appears on more than 4,700 products in the United States and 20 other countries. The packaging symbol enables shoppers to easily find foods offering at least half a serving of whole grains.

    Oldways also backs food companies' efforts to provide healthier food products with its Better Food Forum (www.oldwayspt.org/better-food-forum), a Web-based resource where suppliers can chronicle how they’re endeavoring to enhance the U.S. food supply, and consumers can see which companies are working toward viable solutions. Oldways plans to update the forum regularly to serve as an industry-wide scorecard.

    Additionally, consumers, health professionals, companies and other groups can find out the latest food industry updates, access Oldways' educational tools and express their support for the dietary guidelines by taking the Three Point Pledge at www.oldwayspt.org/take-three-point-pledge.

    Above all, though, the organization enthusiastically endorses the guidelines’ recommendations of deriving pleasure from one’s food and cooking more at home for better health. “At the end of the day, food is meant to be enjoyed,” emphasizes Cynthia Harriman, Oldways’ director of food & nutrition strategies. “Scolding people for what they eat, or promoting unpalatable and unsustainable fad diets, is never productive.”

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