With all the wellness philosophies out there today, it’s safe to say healthy is in the eye of the beholder. While a hearty turkey chili may be the epitome of health for you, it doesn’t even come close to virtuous for a vegan.
Although the boundaries of what’s considered healthy may be blurred for the American public, they’re far more black-and-white for the government agencies that manage our food supply.
Take, for example, the newly released 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture. They call for Americans to follow a “healthy eating pattern,” which includes an appropriate amount of calories, nutrient-dense foods, and limited amounts of added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium.
Fair enough. Yet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides an even stricter definition of “healthy,” along with a long list of regulations regarding food labels. According to the FDA, a food may be labeled as such if it meets the following requirements:
low in total fat (three grams or less per serving) low in saturated fat (one gram or less per serving) limited amounts of sodium and cholesterol provides at least 10 percent of the daily value of one or more of the following nutrients: vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, protein, and fiber
(There’s an exception for fish and meat, which can have up to five grams of fat and two grams of saturated fat …