The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on Dec. 15 in its seventh and final meeting summarized strong evidence that added sugars, especially in sugar-sweetened beverages, increase the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Moderate evidence linked added sugars to hypertension, stroke, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and dental caries.

The D.G.A.C. found moderate evidence for replacing sugar-containing sweeteners with low-calorie sweeteners for reducing calorie intake, body weight and adiposity in short duration studies. The D.G.A.C. concurred with the European Food Safety Authority Panel on Food Additives that aspartame in amounts commonly consumed is safe and poses minimal health risk for healthy individuals without phenylketonuria (PKU), a rare, inherited disorder.

The D.G.A.C. concluded strong evidence associates higher sodium intake and increased blood pressure while moderate evidence associates higher sodium intake and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The D.G.A.C. said inconsistent and insufficient evidence exists for lowering recommended sodium intake below 2,300 mg per day.

Barbara O. Schneeman, Ph.D., professor emeritus at the University of California, Davis, recently wrote about how spices and herbs may fit into the upcoming Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 because of their potential to lower sodium intake. Her story appeared in the September/October issue of Nutrition Today.

“Well-designed studies are emerging to help determine whether a spicy, flavorful eating pattern incorporating a variety of spices and herbs will promote adherence to a healthy diet and improve American’s eating patterns,” she wrote.

Future studies may determine whether using spices and herbs in food may help people maintain a reduced sodium intake, she wrote.

Next, the D.G.A.C. will issue a final report to the secretaries of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Throughout the winter, spring and summer of 2015, the U.S.D.A. and the H.H.S. will consider the D.G.A.C.’s recommendations along with public comments and agency comments. The H.H.S. and the U.S.D.A. jointly should publish the eighth edition of the dietary guidelines by the end of 2015.