Dietary Guidelines for Americans
Eating is one of life's greatest pleasures. Since there are many foods and many ways to build a healthy diet and lifestyle, there is a lot of room for choice. The dietary guidelines are designed to help answer the question: "What should I eat to stay healthy?" They provide advice for healthy Americans over two years old about which food choices promote health and prevent disease. The following is a condensed list of the United States Department of Agriculture’s 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines may help with basic meal planning by providing key recommendations in nine main areas:
Adequate nutrients within calorie needs
- Consume a variety of foods.
- Limit your intake of saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, added sugar, salt, and alcohol.
- To maintain weight, balance calories taken in with those expended.
- To prevent weight gain, make small decreases in food intake and increase your physical activity.
- Regular physical activity including cardiovascular conditioning, stretching exercises for flexibility, and resistance exercises helps to promote health, psychological well-being, and a healthy body weight.
- To reduce the risks of chronic disease participate in 30 minutes or more of moderate- intensity physical activity (like walking briskly, mowing the lawn, dancing, or swimming) at work or home, most days of the week.
- For most people, greater health benefits can be obtained by engaging in physical activity of more vigorous intensity or longer duration.
- To maintain weight and prevent weight gain, participate in 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity on most days of the week.
- To lose weight; participate in 60-90 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most days of the week.
Food groups to encourage
- Consume adequate fruits and vegetables, while staying within energy needs. Two cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables per day are recommended for a reference intake of 2,000 calories per day with higher or lower amounts depending on the calorie level.
- Consume three or more ounce servings of whole-grain products per day with the rest of the recommended grains coming from enriched or whole-grain products. At least half of the grains you consume should come from whole grains.
- Consume three cups of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products every day.
- Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables each day. Select from all five vegetable sub-groups (dark green, orange, legumes, starchy vegetables, and other vegetables) several times a week.
- Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and milk products are all important to maintain a healthful diet and can be good sources of many nutrients.
- When increasing intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grain, and fat-free or low fat products, it is important to decrease one’s intake of less nutrient-dense foods to control calorie intake.
- Fruits and vegetables provide a variety of micronutrients and fiber.
- In the fruit group, consumption of whole fruits (fresh, frozen, canned, dried) rather than fruit juice for the majority of the total daily amount is suggested to ensure adequate fiber intake.
- Different vegetables are rich in different nutrients. It is recommended that a specific amount from each of the five subgroups (dark green, orange, legumes [dry beans], starchy and other vegetables) be consumed weekly for adequate nutrient intake. Each subgroup provides different nutrients.
- Whole grains are an important source of fiber and other nutrients.
- Consuming at least three or more ounce-equivalents of whole grains per day can reduce the risk of several chronic disease and may help with weight maintenance.
- At all calorie levels, all age groups should consume at least half the grains as whole grains to achieve the fiber recommendation.
- Consume less than 10% of calories from saturated fats, and less than 300 mg/day of cholesterol, and keep trans fat consumption as low as possible.
- Keep total fat intake between 20-35% of calories, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
- Choose lean meats, protein choices, and low-fat or fat-free milk products.
- Choose fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains often.
- Half of the grains you consume should be whole grains.
Sodium and potassium
- Consume less than 2,300 mg (approximately 1 tsp. of salt) of sodium per day.
- Consume potassium-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables.
- If you drink alcohol do so in moderation; one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men.
- Keep food safe to eat by cooking thoroughly, washing hands and food contact surfaces, refrigerating or freezing food when appropriate, and by avoiding raw or un-pasteurized meats and dairy products.