Healthy Eating Guidelines

A healthy diet provides the energy and nutrients your body needs to function well. It includes a variety of foods from each of the five food groups. Carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables and grains should make up about three-quarters of your daily calories. You should also choose foods that are low in saturated fat and trans-fats and moderate in salt and sugars. If you are unsure of what a healthy diet looks like, consider using the guidelines provided here to help you select foods that will give you the best chance of living a long and healthy life.

Follow a healthy eating pattern at every age and stage of life.

The healthy eating guidelines provide today’s best scientific advice on the selection of foods to promote health and prevent disease and maintain or improve weight. The guidelines are based on the latest scientific evidence and take into account all foods and beverages consumed, including those in the diets of people with chronic diseases or conditions.

Eat a wide variety of nutritious foods, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean meats and fish, low-fat dairy, eggs, beans and peas and unsalted nuts and seeds. Avoid highly processed, sugary and fatty foods.

Get at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day, 5 days a week. Physical activity can help you lose or maintain a healthy weight, increase your energy level and reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Be sure to drink enough water, milk and other fluids to stay hydrated. Avoid consuming too many caffeinated beverages and limit the amount of alcoholic drinks you consume.

Limit your intake of sodium (salt). A healthy diet should contain less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day for adults. People 51 years of age and older or those with hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease should lower their sodium intake to 1,500 mg of sodium per day.

Aim for 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables each day, based on your calorie level. Choose colorful fruits and vegetables, such as dark green, orange and red, and a variety of starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, pasta and rice.

Choose protein foods that are low in saturated fat and trans-fat and are higher in unsaturated fat, such as seafood, poultry, skinless lean meats, eggs, soy products, beans and nuts. Avoid processed meats, such as bacon and ham, which are linked to an increased risk of heart disease and colon cancer.

Include a source of iron in your diet, such as fortified cereals, leafy vegetables and a small amount of red meat. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid certain types of fish, such as tilefish, shark and swordfish, because they are high in methyl mercury. For the most up-to-date dietary guidelines, talk with your healthcare provider. They can review your medical history and recommend the best diet for you. If you do not have a healthcare provider, a registered dietitian can also help.



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