The USDA Dietary Guidelines (2005)
Official dietary guidelines
for balanced healthy eating (illustrated by the Food Guide Pyramid) are
issued by the US Department of Agriculture.
Healthy Eating Guidelines for Americans
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans
attempt to answer three questions: What should we eat, how should we prepare
it to keep it safe and nutritious, and what sort of exercise is best for
good health. In the latest Dietary Guidelines, published January 2005,
there is a new emphasis on weight management, along with more specific
diet advice on fats, carbohydrate and dairy foods.
The Dietary Guidelines of 2000 attracted
criticism from several dietitians, nutritionists and expert groups (eg.
Harvard School of Public Health, who built their own Healthy Eating Pyramid).
These critics have welcomed several of the new diet recommendations contained
in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines - on issues like weight control, consumption
of trans-fats and whole grains - but concerns remain. Even so, these new
guidelines for healthy balanced eating are a considerable improvement
on the old ones and should generally be welcomed.
Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2005)
- Main Recommendations
Basic Advice About Balanced Diet
- Consume a variety of nutrient-dense
foods and drinks among the basic food groups. Choose foods that restrict
your intake of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars,
salt, and alcohol.
- Follow a balanced eating pattern, such
as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Guide or the Dietary
Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Eating Plan.
Recommendations For a Balanced Diet
- Consume an adequate amount of fruit
and vegetables but stay within the correct calorie level for a healthy
- On a 2000-calorie diet, eat 2 cups of
fruit and 2 and a half cups of vegetables per day. Eat more or less
according to your calorie needs.
- Eat a variety of fruit and vegetables
each day. Choose from all five vegetable sub-groups (dark green, orange,
legumes, starchy vegetables, and other vegetables) several times a week.
- Consume 3 or more ounce-equivalents
of whole-grain foods each day, with the rest of the recommended grains
coming from enriched or whole-grain products. At least half your grains
should come from whole grains. Eating at least 3 ounce-equivalents of
whole grains per day can reduce the risk of heart disease, may help
with weight maintenance, and will lower your health risk for other chronic
- Consume 3 cups per day of fat-free or
low-fat milk or equivalent milk products.Adults and children can consume
milk and milk products without worrying that these foods lead to weight
gain. There are many fat-free and low-fat choices without added sugars
that are available and consistent with an overall healthy dietary plan.
If a person has difficulty drinking milk, ...choose alternatives within
the milk food group, such as yogurt or lactose-free milk, or consume
the enzyme lactase prior to the consumption of milk products. For people
who must avoid all milk products (e.g. individuals with lactose intolerance,
vegans), non-dairy calcium-containing alternatives may be chosen to
help meet calcium needs.
Dietary Fat in a Balanced Diet
- Eat less than ten percent of calories
from saturated fats and less than 300 mg/day of cholesterol, and eat
as few trans-fats (hydrogenated fat) as possible.
- Maintain your total intake of fats/oils
at between 20-35 percent of calories, with most fat coming from polyunsaturated
and monounsaturated fat, such as oily fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
- Regarding meat, poultry, dry beans,
and milk or milk products, choose lean, low-fat, or fat-free options.
Carbohydrate in a Balanced Diet
- Eat fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and
whole grains as often as possible.
- Consume foods and drinks with little
added sugars or caloric sweeteners. Follow the recommendations in the
USDA Food Guide and the DASH Eating Plan.
Dietary Protein in a Balanced Diet
The Dietary Guidelines did not directly
address the issue of protein. They state:
"While protein is an important macronutrient
in the diet, most Americans are already currently consuming enough and
do not need to increase their intake. As such, protein consumption,
while important for nutrient adequacy, is not a focus of this document."
However, they do recommend you to choose
foods that contain lean protein. They state:
Eat lean meats and poultry. Bake, broil,
or grill food.
Eat a variety of protein rich foods, with more fish, beans, peas, nuts
Dietary Sodium and Potassium
- Eat less than 2,300 mg (approximately
1 teaspoon of salt) of sodium per day.
- Choose low-sodium foods, and do not
add salt when cooking. Also, eat potassium-rich foods, such as fruits
See also Adapting
the Food Pyramid Dietary Guidelines