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Revised Dietary Guidelines

Updated: Dec 16, 2020

Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, Seventh Edition.

Every 5 years the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services releases the latest evidence-based dietary guidelines for Americans. These are developed with the goal of helping you choose nutrient-dense food and beverages to help achieve and maintain a healthy weight. These guidelines are for Americans ages 2 years and older.

The report is 112 pages in length so I will do my best to summarize the most important results and recommendations in regards to frequently asked questions we answer in the clinic for our patients. If you are interested in the full article, you can access the information at

1) Food 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.

  • How is an alcoholic drink defined? One drink is defined as 12 fluid ounces of regular beer (5% alcohol), 5 fluid ounces of wine (12% alcohol), or 1.5 fluid ounces of 80 proof (40% alcohol) distilled spirits. One drink contains 0.6 fluid ounces of alcohol.

2) 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.

3) 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.

4) A Special note about water intake: Total water intake includes water from fluids (drinking water and other beverages) and the water that is contained in foods. Healthy individuals, in general, have an adequate total water intake to meet their needs when they have regular access to drinking water and other beverages. The combination of thirst and typical behaviors, such as drinking beverages with meals, provides sufficient total water intake.

Individual water intake needs vary widely, based in part on the level of physical activity and exposure to heat stress. Heatwaves have the potential to result in an increased risk of dehydration, especially in older adults.

Although the IOM set an Adequate Intake (AI) for total water, it was based on the median total water intake estimated from U.S. dietary surveys. Therefore, the AI should not be considered as a specific requirement level.

5) Helpful Tables in the Article:

  • Table 2-3 Estimated Calorie Needs per Day by Age, Gender and Physical Activity Level (page 14)

  • Table 2-4 Recommended Macronutrient (Fats, Carbs, Protein) Proportions by Age (page 15)


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