The new nutrition recommendations by the National Nutrition Council are now ready. The recommendations target all Finns, and as a rule they follow the Nordic recommendations published in autumn 2013 (NNR2012). The focus is on a comprehensive idea of a health-promoting diet, composed of the quality, quantity and role as source of nutrients of various kinds of foods and their link to human health.
The recommendations are intended to steer the actions of healthcare, catering and food industry professionals, various authorities and public health organisations in promoting public health. The recommendations also give advice on how to select food items, designed to fit the Finnish eating habits and food culture. The new food triangle and food plate model support the choices.
Less salt than in the Nordic recommendations
In terms of nutrients the new Finnish recommendations do not bring much new compared to the Nordic recommendations. The recommended intake level for salt is 5 g/day, while in the Nordic recommendations this is a little higher, 6 g/day. The new intake level is in line with the long-term target already included in the previous recommendations, as well as follows the WHO and other international recommendations. The recommended intake level of vitamin D has been slightly raised for over 2-year-olds, adults and the elderly. The recommended daily intake of selenium is also a little higher than before. The upper limit for the range of the share of fat in the daily energy intake has been raised, while the lower limit for the range of the recommended daily intake of carbon hydrates has been slightly lowered. The quality of fats and carbohydrates is considered more important than before. Attention continues to be drawn to the sufficient share of unsaturated fats. Most of the carbohydrates should come from fiber rich foods.
The grounds for the recommendations are presented very briefly as a more thorough account of these is given in the Nordic recommendations (www.norden.org/nnr).
Food triangle and food plate model
The recommendations highlight the components of a health-promoting diet: vegetables, berries, fruits, leguminous plants and wholegrain cereals as well as fish, vegetable oils and vegetable oil based spreads, nuts, seeds and fat-free and low-fat milk products. Vegetables, berries and fruit should be consumed half a kilo a day instead of the 400 grams recommended earlier (and still in NNR2012). The consumption of red meats (beef, pigmeat and sheep meat) and especially that of processed meats and food containing a lot of saturated fats, added sugar and salt and little fibre should be reduced. In the new food triangle the components of a good diet are presented according to their relative weight in the whole diet. The food plate model tells the same thing for a single meal. Posters have been published of the food triangle and food plate model.
Vegetarian and food service perspectives included
The new topics briefly addressed in the recommendations include vegetarian diet, package labelling and application of the recommendations in food and catering services. In addition, food choices are dealt with from the perspective of sustainable development.
- Among the greatest challenges in putting the recommendations into practice is improving the quality of fats – especially substituting vegetable oils for hard, saturated fats – increasing the intake of fibre and cutting down the use of salt, as well as balancing energy intake and consumption, says the chair of the National Nutrition Council Jaana Husu-Kallio.
She is convinced that, even if the targets are very ambitious, they can be reached through long-term collaborative efforts between various actors.
The new recommendations are available (in Finnish) on the website of the National Nutrition Council at www.ravitsemusneuvottelukunta.fi.