Key Recommendations for the General Population
ADEQUATE NUTRIENTS WITHIN CALORIE NEEDS
- Consume a variety of nutrient-dense foods and beverages within and among the
basic food groups while choosing foods that limit the intake of saturated and
trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, salt, and alcohol.
- Meet recommended intakes within energy needs by adopting a balanced eating
pattern, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Guide or the
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Eating Plan.
- To maintain body weight in a healthy range, balance calories from foods and
beverages with calories expended.
- To prevent gradual weight gain over time, make small decreases in food and
beverage calories and increase physical activity.
- Engage in regular physical activity and reduce sedentary activities to promote
health, psychological well-being, and a healthy body weight.
- To reduce the risk of chronic disease in adulthood: Engage in at least 30
minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, above usual activity, at work
or home on most days of the week.
- For most people, greater health benefits can be obtained by engaging in
physical activity of more vigorous intensity or longer duration.
- To help manage body weight and prevent gradual, unhealthy body weight gain in
adulthood: Engage in approximately 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity
activity on most days of the week while not exceeding caloric intake
- To sustain weight loss in adulthood: Participate in at least 60 to 90 minutes
of daily moderate-intensity physical activity while not exceeding caloric intake
requirements. Some people may need to consult with a healthcare provider before
participating in this level of activity.
- Achieve physical fitness by including cardiovascular conditioning, stretching
exercises for flexibility, and resistance exercises or calisthenics for muscle
strength and endurance.
FOOD GROUPS TO ENCOURAGE
- Consume a sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables while staying within
energy needs. Two cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables per day are
recommended for a reference 2,000-calorie intake, with higher or lower amounts
depending on the calorie level.
- Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables each day. In particular, select from
all five vegetable subgroups (dark green, orange, legumes, starchy vegetables,
and other vegetables) several times a week.
- Consume 3 or more ounce-equivalents of whole-grain products per day, with the
rest of the recommended grains coming from enriched or whole-grain products. In
general, at least half the grains should come from whole grains.
- Consume 3 cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk
- 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
- 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.
- Choose fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains often.
- Choose and prepare foods and beverages with little added sugars or caloric
sweeteners, such as amounts suggested by the USDA Food Guide and the DASH Eating
- Reduce the incidence of dental caries by practicing good oral hygiene and
consuming sugar- and starch-containing foods and beverages less frequently.
SODIUM AND POTASSIUM
- Consume less than 2,300 mg (approximately 1 teaspoon of salt) of sodium per
- Choose and prepare foods with little salt. At the same time, consume
potassium-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables.
- Those who choose to drink alcoholic beverages should do so sensibly and in
moderation—defined as the consumption of up to one drink per day for women and
up to two drinks per day for men.
- Alcoholic beverages should not be consumed by some individuals, including
those who cannot restrict their alcohol intake, women of childbearing age who
may become pregnant, pregnant and lactating women, children and adolescents,
individuals taking medications that can interact with alcohol, and those with
specific medical conditions.
- Alcoholic beverages should be avoided by individuals engaging in activities
that require attention, skill, or coordination, such as driving or operating
- To avoid microbial foodborne illness:
- Clean hands, food contact surfaces, and fruits and vegetables. Meat and
poultry should not be washed or rinsed.
- Separate raw, cooked, and ready-to-eat foods while shopping, preparing, or
- Cook foods to a safe temperature to kill microorganisms.
- Chill (refrigerate) perishable food promptly and defrost foods properly.
- Avoid raw (unpasteurized) milk or any products made from unpasteurized milk,
raw or partially cooked eggs or foods containing raw eggs, raw or undercooked
meat and poultry, unpasteurized juices, and raw sprouts.
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Page last updated on October 24, 2008