Eating Well

Diets and Eating Patterns

US Dietary Guidelines, 2005

The US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is a panel of scientific experts that reviews the science providing an advisory report to government agencies, USDA and HHS. The agencies in turn use the report to draft the US Dietary Guidelines, a policy document that allows government agencies to have a uniform voice on nutrition recommendations and is the cornerstone for policy, education, and food assistance. This process occurs every 5 years. The Dietary Guidelines are scheduled to be released in December 2010 with an outreach campaign being planned for spring 2011.

The Dietary Guidelines are the authoritative advice for people two years and older about how good dietary habits can promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases They are jointly issued and updated every 5 years by the Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS).

Throughout the process there has been a growing focus on plant-based diet patterns and consuming more nuts, seeds, oils among a balanced diet. Nuts have been shown on their own to be healthy as there is moderate evidence that consumption of unsalted peanuts, tree nuts, specifically walnuts, almonds, and pistachios, in the context of a nutritionally adequate diet and when total calorie intake is held constant, has a favorable impact on cardiovascular disease risk factors, particularly serum lipid levels. Peanuts, because they are the major nut eaten in the United States provides an important source of plant protein and other nutrients and also are affordable.

2005 Recommendations on Fats

  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids and less than 300 mg/day of cholesterol, and keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible.
  • Keep total fat intake between 20 to 35 percent of calories, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
  • When selecting and preparing meat, poultry, dry beans, and milk or milk products, make choices that are lean, low-fat, or fat-free.
  • Limit intake of fats and oils high in saturated and/or trans fatty acids, and choose products low in such fats and oils.

For more information on the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans:

For more information on the development of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines:

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