The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
Every five years, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) publish the most up-to-date Dietary Guidelines. In the past, the guidelines were intended for healthy Americans, ages 2 years and older. The 2010 guidelines, however, are including those at risk for chronic diseases as well.
In our society, there is growing awareness of and concern about the importance of a healthy lifestyle. It is imperative that consumers receive sensible advice about how to make the healthiest, most nutritious choices.
March is National Nutrition Month, which aims to help people improve their diets by focusing on the principles of healthy eating. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages all Americans to take time this month to look for ways to improve their eating habits. The Dietary Guidelines serve as an excellent platform to do so.
Here are the Key Recommendations for the 2010 Dietary Guidelines: (Source: USDA Dietary Guidelines Executive Summary -
Balancing Calories to Manage Weight
- Prevent and/or reduce overweight and obesity through improved eating and physical activity behaviors.
- Control total calorie intake to manage body weight. For people who are overweight or obese, this will mean consuming fewer calories from foods and beverages.
- Increase physical activity and reduce time spent in sedentary behaviors.
- Maintain appropriate calorie balance during each stage of life - childhood, adolescence, adulthood, pregnancy and breastfeeding, and older age.
Foods and Food Components to Reduce
- Reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) and further reduce intake to 1,500 mg among persons who are 51 and older, and those of any age who are African-American or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. The 1,500-mg recommendation applies to about half of the U.S. population, including children and the majority of adults.
- Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids by replacing them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
- Consume less than 300 mg per day of dietary cholesterol.
- Keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible by limiting foods that contain synthetic sources of trans fats, such as partially hydrogenated oils, and by limiting other solid fats.
- Reduce the intake of calories from solid fats and added sugars.
- Limit the consumption of foods that contain refined grains, especially refined grain foods that contain solid fats, added sugars, and sodium.
- If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation - up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men - and only by adults of legal drinking age.
Foods and Nutrients to Increase
Individuals should meet the following recommendations as part of a healthy eating pattern while staying within their calorie needs:
- Increase vegetable and fruit intake.
- Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green and red and orange vegetables and beans and peas.
- Consume at least half of all grains as whole grains. Increase whole-grain intake by replacing refined grains with whole grains.
- Increase intake of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, or fortified soy beverages.
- Choose a variety of protein foods, which include seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds.
- Increase the amount and variety of seafood consumed by choosing seafood in place of some meat and poultry.
- Replace protein foods that are higher in solid fats with choices that are lower in solid fats and calories and/or are sources of oils.
- Use oils to replace solid fats where possible.
- Choose foods that provide more potassium, dietary fiber, calcium, and vitamin D, which are nutrients of concern in American diets. These foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and milk and milk products.
Recommendations for Specific Population Groups
Women capable of becoming pregnant:
- Choose foods that supply heme iron, which is more readily absorbed by the body, additional iron sources, and enhancers of iron absorption, such as vitamin C-rich foods.
- Consume 400 micrograms (mcg) per day of synthetic folic acid (from fortified foods and/or supplements) in addition to food forms of folate from a varied diet.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding:
- Consume 8 to 12 ounces of seafood per week from a variety of seafood types.
- Due to their high methyl mercury content, limit white (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces per week and do not eat the following four types of fish: tilefish, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel.
- If pregnant, take an iron supplement, as recommended by an obstetrician or other health care provider.
Individuals ages 50 years and older:
- Consume foods fortified with vitamin B12, such as fortified cereals or dietary supplements.
Building Healthy Eating Patterns:
- Select an eating pattern that meets nutrient needs over time at an appropriate calorie level.
- Account for all foods and beverages consumed and assess how they fit within a total healthy eating pattern.
- Follow food safety recommendations when preparing and eating foods to reduce the risk of food-borne illnesses.