The United States Department of Agriculture has established guidelines to provide advice for healthy Americans ages two years and over. The Dietary Guidelines are designed to help people choose diets that will meet nutritional requirements, promote health, support active lives, and reduce chronic disease risks. Here's what the USDA recommends:
- Eat a variety of foods to get the energy, protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber you need. It's the content of the total diet over a day or more that counts.
- Maintain a healthy weight means meeting these three conditions: 1. Your weight falls within the range for your height and age. 2. Your waist measure is smaller than your hip measure. 3. Your doctor has advised you not to gain or lose weight because of a medical problem.
- Choose a diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits and grain products to supply important vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates and fiber. It's better to get fiber from foods which contain fiber naturally rather than from supplements. Some of the benefit from a high fiber diet may be from the food that provides the fiber, not from the fiber alone.
- Choose a diet low in fat saturated fat and cholesterol. Eating less fat from animal sources will help lower the cholesterol, total fat and saturated fat in your diet.
- Use sugars only in moderation. Sugars and many foods that contain them in large amounts supply calories but are limited in nutrients. Both sugars and starches can contribute to tooth decay.
- Use salt and sodium only in moderation. Check labels for the amount of sodium in foods and choose those lower in sodium most of the time.
- If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation. Alcoholic beverages supply calories but little or no nutrients. Drinking them has no net health benefit, is linked with many health problems and can lead to addiction. It is also the cause of many accidents.