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While this proposed change may not impact what “healthy” means for your individual nutrition needs and lifestyle, it will impact which foods can call themselves healthy. As an FYI, the FDA and USDA together regulate almost everything we eat by setting strict rules for items like food names, marketing claims and label appearances- down to the font size!
So why the change now, after over 30 years?
In short, the current definition and regulation have not kept up with current nutrition and health science. Under the outdated definition, foods with known health benefits like almonds and eggs could not be called healthy but sugar loaded cereals with minimal health benefits could. This is because the definition reflected outdated research that put limits around total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, but not added sugar.
The new definition sets strict standards around saturated fat, sodium, and added sugar in fruit products, including juice. This reflects the latest and greatest research around the negative health impacts associated with these nutrients and the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The great news is that 100% tart cherry juice meets the updated FDA's proposed new definition of healthy (although we didn’t need an FDA definition to confirm that)!
While some controversy still exists over this new definition that will impact food packaging and marketing, the proposed update should make it easier for consumers to choose foods on shelves with overall higher nutrition quality.
Most Americans still over consume added sugar, sodium and saturated fat, which has far reaching negative health impacts. However, keep in mind that nutrition remains quite personal so prioritize choosing a variety of foods that work best for your body and always check with your doctor or dietitian before making major changes.
Thanks to our Contributing Dietitian, Jenna Amos, RDN, for this post.
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