A Few Takeaways On New Dietary Guidelines


For those looking to eat healthier, the new dietary guidelines released from the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture this month are a good place to start.

The guidelines, which are revised every five years, are intended for health professionals and policymakers to help consumers improve and maintain their health and reduce their risk for disease. With these latest guidelines, there is more of an emphasis on adopting a healthier eating pattern and making healthy choices on a daily basis, and less of a focus on certain foods or nutrients.

What Do the New Guidelines Say?

Here’s the shorthand version of what the new guidelines say:

  • Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. All food and beverage choices matter. Choose a healthy eating pattern at an appropriate calorie level to help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, support nutrient adequacy, and reduce the risk of chronic disease.
  • Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount. To meet nutrient needs within calorie limits, choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods across and within all food groups in recommended amounts.
  • Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake. Consume an eating pattern low in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. Cut back on foods and beverages higher in these components to amounts that fit within healthy eating patterns.
  • Shift to healthier food and beverage choices. Choose nutrient-dense foods and beverages across and within all food groups in place of less healthy choices. Consider cultural and personal preferences to make these shifts easier to accomplish and maintain.
  • Support healthy eating patterns for all. Everyone has a role in helping to create and support healthy eating patterns in multiple settings nationwide, from home to school to work to communities.

What Does a “Healthy Eating Pattern” Look Like?

The phrase “healthy eating pattern” may be new for people but the concept is not necessarily new. It’s just a way of saying that you need to ensure that the variety of food and beverages you consume on a day-to-day basis should contain nutritious choices within an appropriate calorie level. A healthy eating pattern includes:

  • A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups – dark green, red and orange, legumes. (beans and peas), starchy, and other.
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits.
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grains.
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages.
  • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds, and soy products.
  • Limited saturated fats and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium.

In addition to this general advice, specific quantitative recommendations are provided for several components of the diet that should be limited. These components are of particular public health concern in the United States, and the specified limits can help individuals achieve healthy eating patterns within calorie limits:

  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars.
  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats.
  • Consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium.
  • If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation – up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men – and only by adults of legal drinking age.

To learn more about how you can incorporate the guidelines into your meal plan, visit www.choosemyplate.gov.

You can also read more nutrition advice in our EatWell section, so subscribe to get all the latest tips.

Categories: EatWell