The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S.
Department of Agriculture jointly publish a report entitled
"Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for Americans" at
least every five years. The fifth edition of "Dietary Guidelines for
Americans" was released in May 2000.
In preparing the sixth
edition, for 2005, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee concluded that
the following nine recommendations incorporate its key scientific
[For details, click on each item in the list.]
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Details on each of the preceding nine recommendations are given below.
Food variety and nutrient intake
- Most Americans need to increase their consumption of vitamin
E, calcium, potassium and fiber.
- Many Americans need to increase their intake of vitamins A and
C and magnesium.
- A few special nutrient recommendations apply to the elderly,
women in the childbearing years and groups susceptible to vitamin
- Iron -- Women of childbearing age can reduce the risk of iron
deficiency by eating foods high in iron -- preferably meat,
poultry, fish and shellfish, or by consuming iron-rich plant
- Folic acid -- To reduce the risk of a pregnancy being affected
by a neural tube defect, a daily intake of 400 micrograms of
synthetic folic acid, from supplements or fortified food, is
recommended for women who are capable of becoming pregnant and
those in the first trimester of pregnancy.
- Vitamin B12 -- The goal for those over age 50 is to eat foods
fortified with vitamin B12, such as fortified breakfast cereals,
or to take vitamin B12 supplements to achieve a B12 intake of at
least 2.4 micrograms per day, which equals about 40 percent of the
daily value expressed on food labels.
- Vitamin D -- The elderly, people with dark skin and people
exposed to insufficient ultraviolet blue radiation are at risk of
being unable to maintain vitamin D status. People in these groups
may need substantially more than the adequate intake, as
established in 1997, for vitamin D from vitamin D-fortified foods
or vitamin D supplements.
Energy balance and calorie control
- Calories, carbohydrates, fats -- To stem the obesity epidemic,
most Americans need to reduce the amount of calories they consume.
When it comes to weight control, calories do count -- not the
proportions of carbohydrate, fat and protein in the diet. The
healthiest way to reduce calorie intake is to reduce one's intake of
saturated fat, added sugars and alcohol; they all provide calories,
but they don't provide essential nutrients. For most people, a
reduction of 50 to 100 calories per day will prevent weight gain,
but a reduction of 500 calories or more per day is a common goal in
weight loss programs. Controlling portion sizes helps limit calorie
intake, especially when eating energy-dense foods, that is, foods
that are high in calories for a given amount.
- Physical activity -- Thirty to 60 minutes of moderate physical
activity per day is recommended to prevent weight gain, but 60 to 90
minutes of physical activity per day is recommended to sustain
Thirty minutes of at least moderate physical activity on most
days provides important health benefits in adults. More than
30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on most days
provides even more health benefits. Vigorous intensity physical
activity, such as jogging or other aerobic exercise, provides
greater benefits for physical fitness than moderate physical
activity, and it burns more calories per unit time.
- At least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical
activity on most days is recommended for children to maintain
good health and fitness and for healthy weight during growth.
- Short bouts -- 10 minutes, for example -- of moderate activity
can count toward total physical activity goals.
- During leisure time, it is advisable for all individuals to limit
sedentary behaviors such as television watching and video viewing
and replace them with activities that require more movement.
To decrease their risk of elevated an LDL cholesterol level, most
Americans need to decrease their intakes of saturated fat and trans
fat, and many need to decrease their dietary intake of cholesterol.
Recommended goals are less than 10 percent of calories from
saturated fat and less than 300 mg of cholesterol per day for
adults, with an LDL cholesterol level less than 130 milligrams per
deciliter. Trans fat intakes should be about 1 percent of energy
intake or less.
- Saturated fats -- Saturated fat consumption should be kept as low
as possible. Dietary intake of saturated fat is much higher than
that of trans fat and cholesterol. Intakes of all three fats should
be decreased; however, decreasing intake of saturated fat is most
beneficial because it is consumed in greater amounts.
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Trans fats -- The committee recommended that trans fatty acid
consumption by all population groups be no more than 1 percent of
energy intake. Since trans fatty acids are produced in the
hydrogenation of vegetable oils and account for more than 80 percent
of total trans fat in the food supply, the food industry has a large
role to play in helping consumers decrease their trans fat intake.
- Omega-3 fatty acids -- To benefit from the potential
cardio-protective effects of the fatty acids EPA and DHA, the
committee recommended weekly consumption of two servings of fish,
particularly fish rich in EPA and DHA. However, it is advisable for
pregnant women, lactating women and children to avoid eating fish
with a high mercury content and to limit their consumption of fish
with a moderate mercury content. The report also stated that other
rich food sources of EPA and DHA may be beneficial, although more
research is needed.
- Total fat -- Recommended total fat intake is between 20 percent
and 35 percent of energy.
Recommended total carbohydrate intake is between 45 percent and
65 percent of energy. The Institute of Medicine set a recommended
dietary allowance of 130 grams per day for adults and children.
- Fiber intake -- Most Americans of all ages need to increase their
fiber intake. The recommended intake of dietary fiber is 14 grams
per 1,000 calories.
- Sugar intake -- Reducing intake of added sugars, especially
sugar-sweetened beverages, may be helpful in weight control and aid
in achieving recommended nutrient intakes. A combined approach of
reducing the frequency of consuming sugars and starches -- for
example, limiting snacking on foods that contain these carbohydrates
-- and optimizing oral hygiene practices is advised to reduce dental
Selected food groups
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and milk products are
carbohydrate-containing foods, and they all are important to a
- Fruit and vegetable intake -- To meet nutrient adequacy
recommendation, a range of five to 13 servings of fruits and
vegetables each day is recommended for daily energy intakes of
1,200-3,200 calories. For a 2,000-calorie daily energy intake, nine
servings (4½ cups) are recommended.
- Whole grains intake -- The goal for whole grain intake is at
least three servings (equal to 3 ounces) per day, preferably by
eating whole grains in place of refined grains.
- Milk intake -- For people who require 1,600 calories per day or
more, the goal for milk and milk products is 3 cups of nonfat or
low-fat milk or the equivalent per day. The goal is 2 cups per day
for those with lower calorie needs.
- Nearly all Americans consume substantially more salt than is
recommended. Decreasing salt (sodium chloride) intake is advisable
to reduce the risk of high blood pressure. Expressed in terms of
sodium, the general goal is for adults to consume less than 2,300
milligrams of sodium per day.
- Many people will benefit from reducing their salt intake even
more. Such people include hypertensive individuals, blacks, and
middle- and older-aged adults.
- At the same time, individuals are encouraged to increase their
consumption of foods rich in potassium. Potassium lowers blood
pressure and blunts the effects of salt on blood pressure.
- Since sodium added during the processing of foods provides more
than three-fourths of total intake, the food industry has a large
role to play in helping consumers decrease their sodium intake.
The consumption of alcohol can have beneficial or harmful effects
depending on the amount consumed, the age and other characteristics
of the person consuming the alcohol, and specific situations. The
lowest all-cause and coronary heart disease mortality rates occur at
an intake of one to two drinks per day. Morbidity and mortality are
highest among those drinking large amounts of alcohol.
- Those who choose to drink alcoholic beverages should do so
sensibly and in moderation.
- Abstention is an important option; approximately one in three
American adults do not drink alcohol.
- Moderation is defined as the consumption of up to one drink per
day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. One drink is
defined as 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine (12 percent
alcohol) or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.
- Drinking alcoholic beverages should be avoided before or when
driving or whenever it puts anyone at risk.
- In some situations, alcohol should be avoided: "Dietary
Guidelines for Americans" added breast-feeding women to the list of
The most important food safety problem is microbial food-borne
illness. The behaviors in the home that are most likely to prevent a
problem with food-borne illnesses are:
- Cleaning hands, contact surfaces, and fruits and vegetables.
(This does not apply to meat and poultry, which should not be
- Separating raw, cooked and ready-to-eat foods while shopping,
preparing or storing.
- Cooking foods to a safe temperature.
- Chilling (refrigerating) perishable foods promptly.
Avoiding higher-risk foods is an important protective measure
against food-borne illness. In the case of listeriosis, higher-risk
groups such as younger pregnant women, the elderly and people whose
immune systems are compromised should reheat frankfurters and deli
meats to a safe temperature.
2005 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee]