What nutrients are missing from the RDA list of essentials? Carbohydrates, fiber, fat, and alcohol. The reason is simple: If your diet provides enough protein, vitamins, and minerals, it's almost certain to provide enough carbohydrates and probably more than enough fat. Although no specific RDAs exist for carbohydrates and fat, guidelines definitely exist for them and for dietary fiber and alcohol.
In 1980, the U.S. Public Health Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture joined forces to produce the first edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans (see Chapter 16). This report has been modified many times. The latest set of recommendations, issued in the spring of 2005, sets parameters for what you can consider reasonable amounts of calories, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, fats, protein, and alcohol. According to these guidelines, as a general rule, you need to i Balance your calorie intake with energy output in the form of regular exercise. Check out Chapter 3 for specifics on how many calories a person of your weight, height, and level of activity (couch potato? marathon runner?) needs to consume each day.
i Eat enough carbohydrates (primarily the complex ones from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) to account for 45 to 65 percent of your total daily calories. That's 900 to 1,300 calories on a 2,000-calorie diet.
i Take in an appropriate amount of dietary fiber, currently described as 14 grams dietary fiber for every 1,000 calories.
i Get no more than 20 to 35 percent of your daily calories from dietary fat. Therefore, if your daily diet includes about 2,000 calories, only 400 to 700 calories should come from fat.
Less than 10 percent of your daily calories should come from saturated fatty acids, and your daily diet should have less than 300 mg cholesterol. Eat as little trans fat as possible. The Nutrition Facts label on foods now shows a gram amount for trans fats, but there's no upper limit because any amount is considered, well, less than okey-dokey. (For the skinny on saturated, unsaturated, and trans fats, plus cholesterol, check out Chapter 7).
i If you choose to drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation, meaning one drink a day for a woman and two for a man.
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