What is the Standard American Diet (SAD)?
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The Standard American Diet (SAD) describes what a typical American consumes regularly. It’s also referred to as the Western Diet. The significant components are red meats, refined grains, and processed foods, with most of the calories coming from grain products.
Experts estimated that 60% of the Standard American diet is from processed foods, 30% is from plant products, and 10% is whole plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and whole grains. Of the three macronutrients, people on the SAD eat 50% carbohydrates, 15% protein, and 35% fat.
Only one in ten Americans eat enough fruits and vegetables, making most Americans deficient in vitamins and minerals. Calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and dietary fiber are also below recommended values.
Figure 1. Dietary Intakes Compared to Recommendations. Percent of the U.S. Population Ages 1 Year and Older Who Are Below, At, or Above Each Dietary Goal or Limit.
The SAD developed because of ease and cost. Americans spend the smallest percentage of household income on food compared to the rest of the world. America has the most fast-food restaurants. This SAD element is dictated by culture; American culture dictates that everything be fast and cheap.
Because the diet is high in sugar, sodium, and trans fats, eating the SAD for a long time creates significant health concerns. Excess sodium increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Excess sugar increases the risk of weight gain, acne, depression, and other diseases. Trans fats are associated with disorders and cancer and shouldn’t be consumed. Two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, and one-third of American children are overweight or obese due to their diet.
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