A scientific study regarding dietary guidelines for Americans has provided evidence to support the concept that eating healthy and participating in regular physical activity can help maintain and reduce the risk of developing chronic disease, these guidelines are required to be continuously updated as new research provides better understanding of the benefits that come with healthy eating patterns, and is designed to provide the guidelines to help all persons, ages two years and older, as well and their families consume a healthy, nutritionally adequate diet.
Previous versions of these guidelines emphasized individual components of the diet, with special attention to food groups and individual nutrients, but since overall eating patterns shape the intake of specific research now supports the eating patterns of various foods and overall health. Current research supports adopting five general principles for healthy eating patterns that all persons aged two years or older should adopt.
1. 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.
2. 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
3. Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake. Create a healthy eating pattern low in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium by cutting back on foods and beverages higher in these to amounts that fit within healthy levels.
4. 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.
5. Support healthy eating patterns for everyone. Everyone has a role to play in helping to create and support healthy eating patterns in multiple settings nationwide, from home, to school, to work, to communities.
The concept of an eating pattern is not a strict prescription, but a lifestyle that encourages the individual to explore their own preferences, while fitting within a nutritional and caloric budget.
In addition to these guidelines, there are some highly recommended concepts that help shape a healthy eating pattern and encourages the best relationship between healthy eating and disease prevention. These recommendations include:
1. A healthy eating pattern includes:
- Eating a large variety of fruits and vegetables that includes those of many different colors
- eating whole fruits and vegetables
- making sure at least half of grains are whole grains
- including fat-free or low-fat dairy and/or fortified soy beverages
- eating a variety of lean protein foods, with a balance of animal sources and beans, peas, nuts, seeds, and soy
- consuming healthy oils within dietary needs
2. A healthy eating pattern limits saturated fats, trans fats, added sugars, and sodium. More specifically:
- Consume less than 10% of calories per day from added sugars
- consume less than 10% of calories per day from saturated fats
- consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium