Dietary Guidelines for Americans

food shopThe Dietary Guidelines for Americans provides evidence-based nutrition information and advice to help you make smart choices about food and physical activity so you can live a healthier life.


To make sure you're getting proper nutrition, the Guidelines recommend increasing your intake of:

  • Vegetables and fruit. Make sure to eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas, and fruits.
  • Whole grains. Consume at least half of all grains as whole grains. You can increase your whole-grain intake by replacing refined grains with whole grains, like switching out white bread for whole-grain bread.
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy products. Drink or eat fat-free or low-fat dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, or fortified soy beverages.
  • Protein variety. Choose a variety of proteins, such as seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, beans, peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds.
  • Seafood. Increase the amount and variety of seafood you eat by choosing seafood in place of some meat and poultry.
  • Foods high in nutrients. Choose foods that provide more potassium, dietary fiber, calcium, and vitamin D, which are nutrients of concern in American diets. Foods high in these nutrients include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and milk and milk products.


To improve your health, the Dietary Guidelines recommend reducing the following:

  • Salt. Don't consume more than 2,300 milligrams (mg), or about a teaspoon, of salt (or sodium) each day. People who are 51 years and older, African American, or who have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease should consume less than 1,500 mg daily.
  • Saturated fats. Less than 10% of your calories should come from saturated fats. Saturated fats are found in meats, dairy, and eggs. You can help reduce the amount of saturated fats you eat by choosing lean cuts of meat and low-fat dairy products. The Dietary Guidelines also suggest replacing saturated fats with healthier fats, like the fats found in olives, olive oil, nuts, avocados, sesame, and corn.
  • Cholesterol. Cholesterol is found in animal products like meats, dairy, and eggs. The Guidelines recommend eating less than 300 mg per day of cholesterol to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Trans fat. Keep the amount of trans fat you eat as low as possible. You can do this in part by limiting the amount of solid fats you eat, like the fats found in desserts, pizza, processed and fatty meats (e.g., sausages, hot dogs, bacon, ribs), and ice cream. Try to replace solid fats with oils when possible.
  • Added sugars. Soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks are a major source of added sugar in American diets.
  • Refined grains. Limit the consumption of foods that contain refined grains (a grain that is not a whole grain), especially refined grain foods that contain solid fats, added sugars, and sodium, such as pizza and many baked goods (cookies, cakes, pastries, and donuts).
  • Alcohol. Alcohol 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.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, produced by HHS and the U.S. Department of Agriculture every five years, analyze the latest research to help Americans make smart choices about food and physical activity so they can live healthier lives.

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