"The focus is very clear ... achieving a healthy weight and maintaining
it," says Cindy Moore, MS, RD, director of the nutrition therapy department
at The Cleveland Clinic and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic
"The guidelines emphasize the type of calories you consume --
fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lower-fat milk products -- and that makes a
lot of sense," Moore tells WebMD. "What's near and dear to my heart,
it's educating people on wise carb choices. Not all carbs are villains. Many
are in fact very good."
Americans are asked to cut back on sugars, but mostly to help with weight
In fact, physical activity and weight control take prominent spots in this
year's guidelines. For the first time, the body mass index (BMI) takes a
front-and-center spot. So does physical activity.
Control calorie intake to manage body weight. Check your weight on WebMD's BMI Calculator. A healthy BMI is
between 18.5 and 25.
Be physically active every day. Adults need at least 30 minutes of moderate
physical activity each day. Children need 60 minutes. Moderate physical
activity is any activity that requires about as much energy as walking two
miles in 30 minutes.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables of different kinds -- at least two
servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables each day.
Certain fruits and vegetables provide more nutrients. Choose whole or
cut-up fruits and vegetables rather than juices, which contain little or no
plenty of whole grains, such as whole-wheat bread or oatmeal, can help
protect against many chronic diseases, and the fiber in these foods can help
you feel full longer. Aim for
at least six servings of grain products, including whole grain, per day.
Older children or teens, adult men, or active women
may need more.
All fats are
not created equal. Fats supply energy and essential fatty acids, and they
help you absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Limit saturated fats
because they increase the risk of heart disease. However, unsaturated fats do
not raise cholesterol and thus are healthier.
Choose from a variety of healthy fats, vegetable oils, fish, and dairy
Keep saturated fats to
less than 10% of your calories and total fat intake to no more than 30% of
calories. This will also help you keep the amount of cholesterol you eat each
day to less than 300 mg. Choose from low-fat and lean foods to help cut back on
Limit daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg to reduce the chance of
developing high blood pressure. People with high blood pressure and people at
higher risk of developing high blood pressure, such as blacks and older adults,
may need to cut back even more.
If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. This means one drink per day for
women and two for men. One drink is 12 ounces of regular beer, five ounces of
wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits. Drinking more than this can
raise the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and certain types of
These recommendations will be prepared as reports for the secretaries of
Agriculture and Health and Human Services. When approved, they will be used to
update the food pyramid.