Nutrition and your health


Material Information

Nutrition and your health dietary guidelines for Americans
Series Title:
Home and garden bulletin ;
Portion of title:
Dietary guidelines for Americans
Physical Description:
43 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 23 x 10 cm.
United States -- Dept. of Agriculture
United States -- Dept. of Health and Human Services
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture :
U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services
Place of Publication:
Washington, D.C.?
Publication Date:
4th ed.


Subjects / Keywords:
Nutrition -- United States   ( lcsh )
Diet -- United States   ( lcsh )
Nutrition policy -- United States   ( lcsh )
Diet -- Standards -- United States   ( lcsh )
Nutrition   ( lcsh )
Diet   ( lcsh )
federal government publication   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Additional Physical Form:
Also available via Internet from the NAL web site. Address as of 11/17/99:; current access available via PURL.
Additional Physical Form:
Also available via Internet from the Dept. of Agriculture web site.
General Note:
Cover title.
General Note:
"December 1995"--P. 3 of cover.
General Note:
Shipping list no.: 96-0123-P.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 021330543
oclc - 34482797
System ID:

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Dietary Guidelines
for Americans

Eat a variety of foods

Balance the food you eat with-
physical activity-maintain
or improve your weight

Choose a diet with plenty
of grain products, vegetables,
and fruits

Choose a diet low in fat,
saturated fat, and

Choose a diet moderate
in sugars

Choose a diet moderate
in salt and sodium

If you drink alcoholic
beverages, do so
in moderation

page 15

page 22

page 26

page 33

page 36

page 40

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page 5

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iion and Your Health:
riy Suldelines

What s ; AmIricans althy?

These g eies ale desid help
answer thi iSy' I ide advice
for healthy Am years and over
about food choices that promote health and
prevent disease. To meet the Dietary
Guidelinesfor Americans, choose a diet with
most of the calories from grain products,
vegetables, fruits, lowfat milk products, lean
meats, fish, poultry, and dry beans. Choose
fewer calories from fats and sweets.

Eating is one of life's greatest pleasures

Food choices depend on history, culture, and
environment, as well as on energy and nutri-
ent needs. People also eat foods for enjoy-
ment. Family, friends, and beliefs play a
major role in the ways people select foods
and plan meals. This booklet describes some
of the many different and pleasurable ways
to combine foods to make healthful diets.

Diet is important to health at all stages of life

Many genetic, environmental, behavioral,
and cultural factors can affect health.
Understanding family history of disease or
risk factors-body weight and fat distribu-
tion, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol,
for example-can help people make more
informed decisions about actions that can
improve health prospects. Food choices are
among the most pleasurable and effective of
these actions.

Healthful diets help children grow, develop,
and do well in school. They enable people
of all ages to work productively and feel
their best. Food choices also can help to


reduce the risk for chronic diseases, such as
heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes,
stroke, and osteoporosis, that are leading
causes of death and disability among
Americans. Good diets can reduce major risk
factors for chronic diseases-factors such as
obesity, high blood pressure, and high blood

Foods contain energy, nutrients, and other
components that affect health

People require energy and certain other
essential nutrients. These nutrients are
essential because the body cannot make
them and must obtain them from food.
Essential nutrients include vitamins, minerals,
certain amino acids, and certain fatty acids.
Foods also contain other components such
as fiber that are important for health.
Although each of these food components has
a specific function in the body, all of them
together are required for overall health.
People need calcium to build and maintain
strong bones, for example, but many other
nutrients also are involved.

The carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in
food supply energy, which is measured in
calories. Carbohydrates and proteins provide
about 4 calories per gram. Fat contributes
more than twice as much-about 9 calories
per gram. Alcohol, although not a nutrient,
also supplies energy-about 7 calories per
gram. Foods that are high in fat are also high
in calories. However, many lowfat or nonfat
foods can also be high in calories.

Physical activity fosters a healthful diet

Calorie needs vary by age and level of activ-
ity. Many older adults need less food, in part
due to decreased activity, relative to younger,
more active individuals. People who are
trying to lose weight and eating little food
may need to select more nutrient-dense
foods in order to meet their nutrient needs


in a satisfying diet. Nearly all Americans need
to be more active, because a sedentary
lifestyle is unhealthful. Increasing the calories
spent in daily activities helps to maintain
health and allows people to eat a nutritious
and enjoyable diet.

What is a healthful diet?

Healthful diets contain the amounts of
essential nutrients and calories needed to
prevent nutritional deficiencies and excesses.
Healthful diets also provide the right balance
of carbohydrate, fat, and protein to reduce
risks for chronic diseases, and are a part of a
full and productive lifestyle. Such diets are
obtained from a variety of foods that are
available, affordable, and enjoyable.

The Recommended Dietary Allowances
refer to nutrients

Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs)
represent the amounts of nutrients that are
adequate to meet the needs of most healthy
people. Although people with average nutri-
ent requirements likely eat adequately at
levels below the RDAs, diets that meet RDAs
are almost certain to ensure intake of enough
essential nutrients by most healthy people.
The Dietary Guidelines describe food choices
that will help you meet these recommenda-
tions. Like the RDAs, the Dietary Guidelines
apply to diets consumed over several days
and not to single meals or foods.

The Dietary Guidelines describe food choices
that promote good health

The Dietary Guidelines are designed to help
Americans choose diets that will meet nutri-
ent requirements, promote health, support
active lives, and reduce chronic disease risks.
Research has shown that certain diets raise
risks for chronic diseases. Such diets are high
in fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and salt and
they contain more calories than the body


uses. They are also low in grain products,
vegetables, fruit, and fiber. This bulletin
helps you choose foods, meals, and diets
that can reduce chronic disease risks.

Food labels and the Food Guide Pyramid are
tools to help you make food choices

The Food Guide Pyramid and the Nutrition
Facts Label serve as educational tools to put
the Dietary Guidelines into practice. The
Pyramid translates the RDAs and the Dietary
Guidelines into the kinds and amounts of
food to eat each day. The Nutrition Facts
Label is designed to help you select foods for
a diet that will meet the Dietary Guidelines.
Most processed foods now include nutrition
information. However, nutrition labels are
not required for foods like coffee and tea
(which contain no significant amounts of
nutrients), certain ready-to-eat foods like
unpackaged deli and bakery items, and
restaurant food. Labels are also voluntary for
many raw foods-your grocer may supply
this information for the fish, meat, poultry,
and raw fruits and vegetables that are con-
sumed most frequently. Use the Nutrition
Facts Label to choose a healthful diet.


Eat a variety of foods

To obtain the nutrients and other substances
needed for good health, vary the foods you eat

Foods contain combinations of nutrients and
other healthful substances. No single food
can supply all nutrients in the amounts
you need. For example, oranges provide
vitamin C but no vitamin B12; cheese pro-
vides vitamin Bx2 but no vitamin C. To make
sure you get all of the nutrients and other
substances needed for health, choose the
recommended number of daily servings from
each of the five major food groups displayed
in the Food Guide Pyramid (figure 1).

Fats, Oils, and Sweets KE
USE SPARINGLY a FI nWurlr oa I a
The mynole rim a m
~ alnd suabl a loocl
Milk. Yogurt, and Meatl Pouy, Fsh. Dry Beans.
Cheese Group Eggs, and Nuts Group

Vegetable Group Fruit Group

Bread, Cereal.
Past Group

Use foods from the base of the Food Guide
Pyramid as the foundation of your meals

Americans do choose a wide variety of foods.
However, people often choose higher or
lower amounts from some food groups than
suggested in the Food Guide Pyramid. The
Pyramid shows that foods from the grain
products group, along with vegetables and
fruits, are the basis of healthful diets. Enjoy
meals that have rice, pasta, potatoes, or bread


The Food Guide Pyramid illustrates the
importance of balance among food groups
in a daily eating pattern. Most of the daily
servings of food should be selected from
the food groups that are the largest in the
picture and closest to the base of the
Choose most of your foods from the
grain products group (6-11 servings), the
vegetable group (3-5 servings), and the
fruit group (2-4 servings).
Eat moderate amounts of foods from the
milk group (2-3 servings) and the meat
and beans group (2-3 servings).
Choose sparingly foods that provide few
nutrients and are high in fat and sugars.

Note: A range of servings is given for each food
group. The smaller number is for people who
consume about 1,600 calories a day, such as many
sedentary women. The larger number is for those
who consume about 2,800 calories a day, such as
active men.

at the center of the plate, accompanied by
other vegetables and fruit, and lean and low-
fat foods from the other groups. Limit fats and
sugars added in food preparation and at the
table. Compare the recommended number of
servings in box 1 with what you usually eat.

What counts as a "serving"?

See box 2 for suggested serving sizes in the
Food Guide Pyramid food groups. Notice
that some of the serving sizes are smaller
than what you might usually eat. For exam-
ple, many people eat a cup or more of pasta
in a meal, which equals two or more serv-
ings. So, it is easy to eat the number of
servings recommended.


Grain Products Group (bread, cereal,
rice, and pasta)
* 1 slice of bread
* 1 ounce of ready-to-eat cereal
* 1/2 cup of cooked cereal, rice, or pasta
Vegetable Group
* 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables
* 1/2 cup of other vegetables-cooked or
chopped raw
* 3/4 cup of vegetable juice
Fruit Group
* 1 medium apple, banana, orange
* 1/2 cup of chopped, cooked, or canned
* 3/4 cup of fruit juice
Milk Group (milk, yogurt, and cheese)
* 1 cup of milk or yogurt
* 1/2 ounces of natural cheese
* 2 ounces of processed cheese
Meat and Beans Group (meat, poultry,
fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts)
* 2-3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poul-
try, or fish
* 1/2 cup of cooked dry beans or 1 egg
counts as 1 ounce of lean meat. Two
tablespoons of peanut butter or 1/3 cup
of nuts count as 1 ounce of meat.

* Some foods fit into more than one group.
Dry beans, peas, and lentils can be counted as serv-
ings in either the meat and beans group or veg-
etable group. These "cross over" foods can be
counted as servings from either one or the other
group, but not both. Serving sizes indicated here are
those used in the Food Guide Pyramid and based
on both suggested and usually consumed portions
necessary to achieve adequate nutrient intake. They
differ from serving sizes on the Nutrition Facts
Label, which reflect portions usually consumed.


Choose different foods within each food group

You can achieve a healthful, nutritious eating
pattern with many combinations of foods
from the five major food groups. Choosing a
variety of foods within and across food
groups improves dietary patterns because
foods within the same group have different
combinations of nutrients and other benefi-
cial substances. For example, some vegeta-
bles and fruits are good sources of vitamin C
or vitamin A, while others are high in folate
(page 24); still others are good sources of
calcium or iron. Choosing a variety of foods
within each group also helps to make your
meals more interesting from day to day.

What about vegetarian diets?

Some Americans eat vegetarian diets for
reasons of culture, belief, or health. Most
vegetarians eat milk products and eggs,
and as a group, these lacto-ovo-vegetarians
enjoy excellent health. Vegetarian diets are
consistent with the Dietary Guidelinesfor
Americans and can meet Recommended
Dietary Allowances for nutrients. You can get
enough protein from a vegetarian diet as
long as the variety and amounts of foods
consumed are adequate. Meat, fish, and
poultry are major contributors of iron, zinc,
and B vitamins in most American diets, and
vegetarians should pay special attention to
these nutrients.

Vegans eat only food of plant origin. Because
animal products are the only food sources of
vitamin B12, vegans must supplement their
diets with a source of this vitamin. In addi-
tion, vegan diets, particularly those of chil-
dren, require care to ensure adequacy of
vitamin D and calcium, which most
Americans obtain from milk products.


Foods vary in their amounts of calories and

Some foods such as grain products, vegeta-
bles, and fruits have many nutrients and
other healthful substances but are relatively
low in calories. Fat and alcohol are high in
calories. Foods high in both sugars and fat
contain many calories but often are low in
vitamins, minerals, or fiber.

People who do not need many calories or
who must restrict their food intake need to
choose nutrient-rich foods from the five
major food groups with special care. They
should obtain most of their calories from
foods that contain a high proportion of
essential nutrients and fiber.

Growing children, teenage girls, and women
have higher needs for some nutrients

Many women and adolescent girls need to
eat more calcium-rich foods to get the cal-
cium needed for healthy bones throughout
life. By selecting lowfat or fat-free milk
products and other lowfat calcium sources,
they can obtain adequate calcium and keep
fat intake from being too high (box 3).
Young children, teenage girls, and women of
childbearing age should also eat enough
iron-rich foods, such as lean meats and
whole-grain or enriched white bread, to
keep the body's iron stores at adequate lev-
els (box 4).


Most foods in the milk group
milk and dishes made with milk, such
as puddings and soups made with milk
cheeses such as Mozzarella, Cheddar,
Swiss, and Parmesan
Canned fish with soft bones such as
sardines, anchovies, and salmon
Dark-green leafy vegetables, such as
kale, mustard greens, and turnip greens,
and pak-choi
Tofu, if processed with calcium sulfate.
Read the labels.
Tortillas made from lime-processed corn.
Read the labels.

Does not include complete list of examples. You
can obtain additional information from "Good
Sources of Nutrients," USDA, January 1990. Also
read food labels for brand-specific information.
t Some foods in this group are high in fat, choles-
terol, or both. Choose lower fat, lower cholesterol
foods most often. Read the labels.

Enriched and fortified foods have essential
nutrients added to them

National policy requires that specified
amounts of nutrients be added to enrich
some foods. For example, enriched flour and
bread contain added thiamin, riboflavin,
niacin, and iron; skim milk, lowfat milk,
and margarine are usually enriched with
vitamin A; and milk is usually enriched with
vitamin D. Fortified foods may have one or
several nutrients added in extra amounts.
The number and quantity of nutrients added
vary among products. Fortified foods may be
useful for meeting special dietary needs.
Read the ingredient list to know which
nutrients are added to foods (figure 2).
How these foods fit into your total diet


* Meats-beef, pork, lamb, and liver and
other organ meatst
Poultry-chicken, duck, and turkey,
especially dark meat; liver
Fish-shellfish, like clams, mussels,
and oysters; sardines; anchovies; and
other fish
Leafy greens of the cabbage family, such
as broccoli, kale, turnip greens, collards
Legumes, such as lima beans and green
peas; dry beans and peas, such as pinto
beans, black-eyed peas, and canned
baked beans
Yeast-leavened whole-wheat bread
and rolls
Iron-enriched white bread, pasta, rice,
and cereals. Read the labels.
Does not include complete list of examples. You
can obtain additional information from "Good
Sources of Nutrients," USDA, January 1990. Also
read food labels for brand-specific information.
t Some foods in this group are high in fat,
cholesterol, or both. Choose lean, lower fat, lower
cholesterol foods most often. Read the labels.

will depend on the amounts you eat and
the other foods you consume.

Where do vitamin, mineral, and fiber
supplements fit in?

Supplements of vitamins, minerals, or fiber
also may help to meet special nutritional
needs. However, supplements do not supply
all of the nutrients and other substances pre-
sent in foods that are important to health.
Supplements of some nutrients taken regu-
larly in large amounts are harmful. Daily vita-
min and mineral supplements at or below
the Recommended Dietary Allowances are
considered safe, but are usually not needed
by people who eat the variety of foods
depicted in the Food Guide Pyramid.




Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 3/4 cup (30g/1.1 oz)
Servings Per Package 11

caOrel wal
1/2 =up
Amount V Wmin A&D
Pw a-VgCarew sskii m fl
Calories 120 160
Calories from Fat 15 15
% Daily Vram*
Total Fat 2g* 3% 3%
Saturated Fat 1g 5% 5%
Cholesterol Omg 0% 0%
Sodium 210mg 9% 11%
Potassum 45mg 1% 7%
Total Carbohydrate 24g 8% 10%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4% 4%
Sugars 9g
Protein 2g

Vitamin A 15% 10%
Vitamin C 25% 25%
Calcium 0% 15%
Iron 25% 25%
Vitamin D 10% 25%
Thiamin 25% 30%
Riboflavin 25% 35%
Niacin 25% 25%
Vitamin Be 25% 25%
Folate 25% 25%
Phosphorus 2% 15%
*Amount in cereal. One half cup of sidm milk contdbutes an addi-
tional 65mg sodium, 6g total carbohydrate (6g sugars), and
4g protein.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2.000 calorie diet. Your daily
values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs
Calories 2,000 2,500
Total Fat Less than 65g 80g
Sat Fat Less than 20g 25g
Cholesterol Lees than 300mg 00mg
Sodium Lees than 2,400mg 2,400mg
Potassium 3.500mg 3,500mg
Total Caiohydrat 300g 375g
Dietary Fiber 25g 30g

Ingredients: Corn, sugar, whole oats, almonds, parialy hydrogenatd
palm kernel oil, high fUctose corm syrup, whole wheat, brown sugar,
nonfat dry milk corn syrup, salt, rice, butter flavor with other natural
and artifical flavor, partially hydrogenated cotoneed and soybean
oils, modified corn starm lycern, butter o. sy lh nolv

*See page 28 for discussion of Daily Value.



Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 8 fl oz (240 ml)
Servings Per Container 8

Amount Per Serving
Calories 100 Calories from Fat 20

% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2.5g 4%
Saturated Fat 1.5g 8%
Cholesterol 10mg 3%
Sodium 130mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 12g 4%
Dietary Fiber Og 0%
Sugars 11g
Protein 8g

Vitamin A 10% Vitamin C 4%
Calcium 30% Iron 0%
Vitamin D 25%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000
calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher
or lower depending on your calorie needs:

Calories 2,000

Total Fat Less than
Sat Fat Less than
Cholesterol Less than
Sodium Less than
Total Carbohydrate
Dietary Fiber

In redients: Lowfat milk,








Y--~--- II~

Sometimes supplements are needed to meet
specific nutrient requirements. For example,
older people and others with little exposure
to sunlight may need a vitamin D supple-
ment. Women of childbearing age may
reduce the risk of certain birth defects by
consuming folate-rich foods or folic acid sup-
plements. Iron supplements are recom-
mended for pregnant women. However,
because foods contain many nutrients and
other substances that promote health, the use
of supplements cannot substitute for proper
food choices.

Enjoy eating a variety of foods. Get the many
nutrients your body needs by choosing
among the varied foods you enjoy from
these groups: grain products, vegetables,
fruits, milk and milk products, protein-rich
plant foods (beans, nuts), and protein-rich
animal foods (lean meat, poultry, fish, and
eggs). Remember to choose lean and lowfat
foods and beverages most often. Many foods
you eat contain servings from more than one
food group. For example, soups and stews
may contain meat, beans, noodles, and


Balance the food you eat
with physical activity-
maintain or improve
your weight

Many Americans gain weight in adult-
hood, increasing their risk for high
blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, dia-
betes, certain types of cancer, arthritis,
breathing problems, and other illness.
Therefore, most adults should not gain
weight. If you are overweight and have one
of these problems, you should try to lose
weight, or at the very least, not gain weight.
If you are uncertain about your risk of devel-
oping a problem associated with overweight,
you should consult a health professional.
How to maintain your weight
In order to stay at the same body weight,
people must balance the amount of calories
in the foods and drinks they consume with
the amount of calories the body uses.
Physical activity is an important way to use
food energy. Most Americans spend much of
their working day in activities that require
little energy. In addition, many Americans of
all ages now spend a lot of leisure time each
day being inactive, for example, watching
television or working at a computer. To burn
calories, devote less time to sedentary activi-
ties like sitting. Spend more time in activities
like walking to the store or around the block.
Use stairs rather than elevators. Less seden-
tary activity and more vigorous activity may
help you reduce body fat and disease risk.
Try to do 30 minutes or more of moderate
physical activity on most-preferably all-
days of the week (box 5).


Remember to accumulate 30 minutes or
more of moderate physical activity on
most-preferably all-days of the week.

Examples of moderate physical
activities for healthy U.S. adults
walking briskly (3-4 miles per hour)
conditioning or general calisthenics
home care, general cleaning
racket sports such as table tennis
mowing lawn, power mower
golf-pulling cart or carrying clubs
home repair, painting
fishing, standing/casting
swimming (moderate effort)
cycling, moderate speed (s 10 miles per hour)
canoeing leisurely (2.0-3.9 miles per hour)
Source: Adapted from Pate, et al.,Journal ofthbe
American MedicalAssociation, 1995, Vol. 273, p. 404.

The kinds and amounts of food people eat
affect their ability to maintain weight. High-
fat foods contain more calories per serving
than other foods and may increase the likeli-
hood of weight gain. However, even when
people eat less high-fat food, they still can
gain weight from eating too much of foods
high in starch, sugars, or protein. Eat a
variety of foods, emphasizing pasta, rice,
bread, and other whole-grain foods as well
as fruits and vegetables. These foods are
filling, but lower in calories than foods rich
in fats or oils.


The pattern of eating may also be important.
Snacks provide a large percentage of daily
calories for many Americans. Unless nutri-
tious snacks are part of the daily meal plan,
snacking may lead to weight gain. A pattern
of frequent binge-eating, with or without
alternating periods of food restriction, may
also contribute to weight problems.

Maintaining weight is equally important for
older people who begin to lose weight as
they age. Some of the weight that is lost is
muscle. Maintaining muscle through regular
activity helps to keep older people feeling
well and helps to reduce the risk of falls and

How to evaluate your body weight

Healthy weight ranges for adult men and
women of all ages are shown in figure 3. See
where your weight falls on the chart for peo-
ple of your height. The health risks due to
excess weight appear to be the same for
older as for younger adults. Weight ranges
are shown in the chart because people of the
same height may have equal amounts of
body fat but different amounts of muscle and
bone. However, the ranges do not mean that
it is healthy to gain weight, even within the
same weight range. The higher weights in
the healthy weight range apply to people
with more muscle and bone.

Weights above the healthy weight range are
less healthy for most people. The further you
are above the healthy weight range for your
height, the higher your weight-related risk
(figure 3). Weights slightly below the range
may be healthy for some people but are
sometimes the result of health problems,
especially when weight loss is unintentional.


6' 6"
6' 5"
6' 4"
6' 3"
6' 2"
6' 0"
5' 11"-
5' 10"
5' "
5' 8"
5' 7"
5' 6"
5' 5"
5' 3"-
5' 2"-
5' 1" -
5' 0"
4' 10"
50 75 100 125 150 175 200 225 250
Without shoes.
t Without clothes. The higher weights apply to peo-
ple with more muscle and bone, such as many men.
Source: Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory
Committee on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans,
1995, pages 23-24.

Location of body fat

Research suggests that the location of body
fat also is an important factor in health risks
for adults. Excess fat in the abdomen (stom-
ach area) is a greater health risk than excess
fat in the hips and thighs. Extra fat in the
abdomen is linked to high blood pressure,
diabetes, early heart disease, and certain
types of cancer. Smoking and too much alco-
hol increase abdominal fat and the risk for
diseases related to obesity. Vigorous exercise
helps to reduce abdominal fat and decrease
the risk for these diseases. The easiest way to
check your body fat distribution is to
measure around your waistline with a tape
measure and compare this with the measure
around your hips or buttocks to see if your
abdomen is larger. If you are in doubt, you
may wish to seek advice from a health


Problems with excessive thinness

Being too thin can occur with anorexia
nervosa, other eating disorders, or loss of
appetite, and is linked to menstrual irregular-
ity and osteoporosis in women, and greater
risk of early death in both women and men.
Many people-especially women-are con-
cerned about body weight, even when their
weight is normal. Excessive concern about
weight may cause or lead to such unhealthy
behaviors as excessive exercise, self-induced
vomiting, and the abuse of laxatives or other
medications. These practices may only
worsen the concern about weight. If you lose
weight suddenly or for unknown reasons,
see a physician. Unexplained weight loss
may be an early clue to a health problem.

If you need to lose weight

You do not need to lose weight if your
weight is already within the healthy range in
the figure, if you have gained less than
10 pounds since you reached your adult
height, and if you are otherwise healthy. If
you are overweight and have excess abdomi-
nal fat, a weight-related medical problem, or
a family history of such problems, you need
to lose weight. Healthy diets and exercise
can help people maintain a healthy weight,
and may also help them lose weight. It is
important to recognize that overweight is a
chronic condition which can only be con-
trolled with long-term changes. To reduce
caloric intake, eat less fat and control portion
sizes (box 6). If you are not physically active,
spend less time in sedentary activities such as
watching television, and be more active
throughout the day. As people lose weight,
the body becomes more efficient at using
energy and the rate of weight loss may
decrease. Increased physical activity will help
you to continue losing weight and to avoid
gaining it back (box 5).


'I-1 rl --IL~c~d~i~~llB

Eat a variety of foods that are low in
calories and high in nutrients-check the
Nutrition Facts Label.
Eat less fat and fewer high-fat foods.
Eat smaller portions and limit second
helpings of foods high in fat and
Eat more vegetables and fruits without
fats and sugars added in preparation or
at the table.
Eat pasta, rice, breads, and cereals with-
out fats and sugars added in preparation
or at the table.
Eat less sugars and fewer sweets (like
candy, cookies, cakes, soda).
Drink less or no alcohol.

Many people are not sure how much weight
they should lose. Weight loss of only 5-10
percent of body weight may improve many
of the problems associated with overweight,
such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Even a smaller weight loss can make a differ-
ence. If you are trying to lose weight, do so
slowly and steadily. A generally safe rate is
1/2-1 pound a week until you reach your
goal. Avoid crash weight-loss diets that
severely restrict calories or the variety of
foods. Extreme approaches to weight loss,
such as self-induced vomiting or the use of
laxatives, amphetamines, or diuretics, are
not appropriate and can be dangerous to
your health.


Weight regulation in children

Children need enough food for proper
growth. To promote growth and develop-
ment and prevent overweight, teach children
to eat grain products; vegetables and fruits;
lowfat milk products or other calcium-rich
foods; beans, lean meat, poultry, fish or
other protein-rich foods; and to participate in
vigorous activity. Limiting television time and
encouraging children to play actively in a
safe environment are helpful steps. Although
limiting fat intake may help to prevent excess
weight gain in children, fat should not be
restricted for children younger than 2 years
of age. Helping overweight children to
achieve a healthy weight along with normal
growth requires more caution. Modest reduc-
tions in dietary fat, such as the use of lowfat
milk rather than whole milk, are not haz-
ardous. However, major efforts to change a
child's diet should be accompanied by moni-
toring of growth by a health professional at
regular intervals.

Try to maintain your body weight by balanc-
ing what you eat with physical activity. If
you are sedentary, try to become more
active. If you are already very active, try to
continue the same level of activity as you
age. More physical activity is better than less,
and any is better than none. If your weight is
not in the healthy range, try to reduce health
risks through better eating and exercise
habits. Take steps to keep your weight
within the healthy range (neither too high
nor too low). Have children's heights and
weights checked regularly by a health


Choose a diet with
plenty of grain products,
vegetables, and fruits

Grain products, vegetables, and fruits are
key parts of a varied diet. They are
emphasized in this guideline because they
provide vitamins, minerals, complex carbo-
hydrates (starch and dietary fiber), and other
substances that are important for good
health. They are also generally low in fat,
depending on how they are prepared and
what is added to them at the table. Most
Americans of all ages eat fewer than the
recommended number of servings of grain
products, vegetables, and fruits, even though
consumption of these foods is associated
with a substantially lower risk for many
chronic diseases, including certain types
of cancer.

Most of the calories in your diet should come
from grain products, vegetables, and fruits

These include grain products high in com-
plex carbohydrates-breads, cereals, pasta,
rice-found at the base of the Food Guide
Pyramid, as well as vegetables such as pota-
toes and corn. Dry beans (like pinto, navy,
kidney, and black beans) are included in the
meat and beans group of the Pyramid, but
they can count as servings of vegetables
instead of meat alternatives.

Plant foods provide fiber

Fiber is found only in plant foods like
whole-grain breads and cereals, beans and
peas, and other vegetables and fruits.
Because there are different types of fiber in
foods, choose a variety of foods daily. Eating
a variety of fiber-containing plant foods is
important for proper bowel function, can
reduce symptoms of chronic constipation,


diverticular disease, and hemorrhoids, and
may lower the risk for heart disease and
some cancers. However, some of the health
benefits associated with a high-fiber diet may
come from other components present in
these foods, not just from fiber itself. For this
reason, fiber is best obtained from foods
rather than supplements.

Plant foods provide a variety of vitamins and
minerals essential for health

Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low
in fat and provide many essential nutrients
and other food components important for
health. These foods are excellent sources
of vitamin C, vitamin B6, carotenoids,
including those which form vitamin A (box
7), and folate (box 8). The antioxidant
nutrients found in plant foods (e.g., vitamin
C, carotenoids, vitamin E, and certain
minerals) are presently of great interest to
scientists and the public because of their
potentially beneficial role in reducing the
risk for cancer and certain other chronic
diseases. Scientists are also trying to
determine if other substances in plant foods
protect against cancer.

Dark-green leafy vegetables (such as
spinach, collards, kale, mustard greens,
turnip greens), broccoli, carrots,
pumpkin and calabasa, red pepper,
sweet potatoes, and tomatoes
Fruits like mango, papaya, cantaloupe

Does not include complete list of examples. You
can obtain additional information from "Good
Sources of Nutrients," USDA, January 1990. Also
read food labels for brand-specific information.


Folate, also called folic acid, is a B vitamin
that, among its many functions, reduces the
risk of a serious type of birth defect (box 8).
Minerals such as potassium, found in a wide
variety of vegetables and fruits, and calcium,
found in certain vegetables, may help reduce
the risk for high blood pressure (see pages
10 and 37).

The availability of fresh fruits and vegetables
varies by season and region of the country,
but frozen and canned fruits and vegetables
ensure a plentiful supply of these healthful
foods throughout the year. Read the Nutrition
Facts Label to help choose foods that are rich
in carbohydrates, fiber, and nutrients, and
low in fat and sodium.

Dry beans (like red beans, navy beans,
and soybeans), lentils, chickpeas,
cow peas, and peanuts
Many vegetables, especially leafy greens
(spinach, cabbage, brussels sprouts,
romaine, looseleaf lettuce), peas, okra,
sweet corn, beets, and broccoli
Fruits such as blackberries, boysen-
berries, kiwifruit, oranges, plantains,
strawberries, orange juice, and
pineapple juice

Does not include complete list of examples.
You can obtain additional information from "Good
Sources of Nutrients," USDA, January 1990. The
Nutrition Facts Label may also provide brand-spe-
cific information on this nutrient.


6-11 servings* of grain products
(breads, cereals, pasta, and rice)
* Eat products made from a variety of
whole grains, such as wheat, rice, oats,
corn, and barley.
Eat several servings of whole-grain
breads and cereals daily.
Prepare and serve grain products with
little or no fats and sugars.
3-5 servings* of various vegetables and
vegetable juices
* Choose dark-green leafy and
deep-yellow vegetables often.
Eat dry beans, peas, and lentils often.
Eat starchy vegetables, such as potatoes
and corn.
Prepare and serve vegetables with little
or no fats.
2-4 servings* of various fruits and
fruit juices
* Choose citrus fruits or juices, melons, or
berries regularly.
Eat fruits as desserts or snacks.
Drink fruit juices.
Prepare and serve fruits with little or
no added sugars.
* See box 2, page 7, for what counts as a serving.

Eat more grain products (breads, cereals,
pasta, and rice), vegetables, and fruits. Eat
dry beans, lentils, and peas more often.
Increase your fiber intake by eating more
of a variety of whole grains, whole-grain
products, dry beans, fiber-rich vegetables
and fruits such as carrots, corn, peas,
pears, and berries (box 9).


Choose a diet low in fat,
saturated fat, and

Some dietary fat is needed for good health.
Fats supply energy and essential fatty
acids and promote absorption of the fat-solu-
ble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Most people are
aware that high levels of saturated fat and
cholesterol in the diet are linked to increased
blood cholesterol levels and a greater risk for
heart disease. More Americans are now eat-
ing less fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol-rich
foods than in the recent past, and fewer peo-
ple are dying from the most common form of
heart disease. Still, many people continue to
eat high-fat diets, the number of overweight
people has increased, and the risk of heart
disease and certain cancers (also linked to fat
intake) remains high. This guideline empha-
sizes the continued importance of choosing a
diet with less total fat, saturated fat, and

Foods high in fat should be used sparingly
Some foods and food groups in the Food
Guide Pyramid are higher in fat than others.
Fats and oils, and some types of desserts and
snack foods that contain fat provide calories
but few nutrients. Many foods in the milk
group and in the meat and beans group
(which includes eggs and nuts, as well as
meat, poultry, and fish) are also high in fat,
as are some processed foods in the grain
group. Choosing lower fat options among
these foods allows you to eat the recom-
mended servings from these groups and
increase the amount and variety of grain
products, fruits, and vegetables in your diet
without going over your calorie needs.


Choose a diet low in fat

Fat, whether from plant or animal sources,
contains more than twice the number of
calories of an equal amount of carbohydrate
or protein. Choose a diet that provides no
more than 30 percent of total calories from
fat. The upper limit on the grams of fat in
your diet will depend on the calories you
need (box 10). Cutting back on fat can help
you consume fewer calories. For example, at
2,000 calories per day, the suggested upper
limit of calories from fat is about 600 calories.
Sixty-five grams of fat contribute about 600
calories (65 grams of fat x 9 calories per
gram = about 600 calories). On the Nutrition
Facts Label, 65 grams of fat is the Daily Value
for a 2,000-calorie intake (figure 4).

Calories 1,600 2,200 2,800
Total fat 53 73 93


Serving Size
reflects the
typically eaten
by many

The list of
those most
to the
health of

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 3 cookies (34g/1.2 oz)
Servings Per Container About 5

am-'t Per SngO b
Calories 180 Calories from Fat 90 -
% DalI Value* -
Total Fat lOg 15%
Saturated Fat 3.5g 18%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 10mg 3%
Sodium 80mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 21g 7%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 11g
Protein 2g

Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 0% Iron 4%
Thiamin 6% Riboflavin 4%
Niacin 4%
SPercent Daily Values are based on a 2,000
calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher
or lower depending on your calorie needs:
Calories 2,000 2.500

Total Fat Less than
Sat Fat Less than
Cholesterol Less than
Sodium Less than
Total Carbohydrate
Dietary Fiber



Ingredients. Unbleached enriched wheat flour
[flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate
(vitamin Bi)], sweet chocolate (sugar, chocolate
liquor, cocoa butter, soy lecithin added as an
emulsifier, vanilla extract), sugar, partially hydro-
genated vegetable shortening (soybean,
cottonseed and/or canola oils), nonfat milk,
whole eggs, cornstarch, egg whites, salt, vanilla
extract, baking soda, and soy lecithin.

Calories from
Fat are now
shown on the
label to help
meet dietary
guidelines that
people get no
more than 30
percent of the
calories in their
overall diet from

% Daily Value
(DV) shows
how a food in
the specified
serving size fits
into the overall
daily diet. By
using the %DV
you can easily
whether a food
contributes a lot
or a little of a
nutrient. And
you can
different foods
with no need to
do any

Choose a diet low in saturated fat

Fats contain both saturated and unsaturated
(monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) fatty
acids. Saturated fat raises blood cholesterol
more than other forms of fat. Reducing satu-
rated fat to less than 10 percent of calories
will help you lower your blood cholesterol
level. The fats from meat, milk, and milk
products are the main sources of saturated
fats in most diets. Many bakery products are
also sources of saturated fats. Vegetable oils



supply smaller amounts of saturated fat. On
the Nutrition Facts Label, 20 grams of satu-
rated fat (9 percent of caloric intake) is the
Daily Value for a 2,000-calorie diet (figure 4).

Monou nsaturated and polyunsaturated fat.
Olive and canola oils are particularly high in
monounsaturated fats; most other vegetable
oils, nuts, and high-fat fish are good sources
of polyunsaturated fats. Both kinds of unsat-
urated fats reduce blood cholesterol when
they replace saturated fats in the diet. The
fats in most fish are low in saturated fatty
acids and contain a certain type of polyunsat-
urated fatty acid (omega-3) that is under
study because of a possible association with
a decreased risk for heart disease in certain
people. Remember that the total fat in the
diet should be consumed at a moderate
level-that is, no more than 30 percent of
calories. Mono- and polyunsaturated fat
sources should replace saturated fats within
this limit.

Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, such as
those used in many margarines and shorten-
ings, contain a particular form of unsaturated
fat known as trans-fatty acids that may raise
blood cholesterol levels, although not as
much as saturated fat.


Choose a diet low in cholesterol

The body makes the cholesterol it requires.
In addition, cholesterol is obtained from
food. Dietary cholesterol comes from animal
sources such as egg yolks, meat (especially
organ meats such as liver), poultry, fish, and
higher fat milk products. Many of these foods
are also high in saturated fats. Choosing
foods with less cholesterol and saturated fat
will help lower your blood cholesterol levels
(box 11). The Nutrition Facts Label lists the
Daily Value for cholesterol as 300 mg. You
can keep your cholesterol intake at this level
or lower by eating more grain products, veg-
etables and fruits, and by limiting intake of
high cholesterol foods.

Advice for children

Advice in the previous sections does not
apply to infants and toddlers below the age
of 2 years. After that age, children should
gradually adopt a diet that, by about 5 years
of age, contains no more than 30 percent of
calories from fat. As they begin to consume
fewer calories from fat, children should
replace these calories by eating more grain
products, fruits, vegetables, and lowfat milk
products or other calcium-rich foods, and
beans, lean meat, poultry, fish, or other
protein-rich foods.


Fats and Oils
* Use fats and oils sparingly in cooking
and at the table.
* Use small amounts of salad dressings
and spreads such as butter, margarine,
and mayonnaise. Consider using lowfat
or fat-free dressings for salads.
* Choose vegetable oils and soft mar-
garines most often because they are
lower in saturated fat than solid shorten-
ings and animal fats, even though their
caloric content is the same.
* Check the Nutrition Facts Label to see
how much fat and saturated fat are in a
serving; choose foods lower in fat and
saturated fat.
Grain Products, Vegetables, and Fruits
* Choose lowfat sauces with pasta, rice,
and potatoes.
* Use as little fat as possible to cook
vegetables and grain products.
* Season with herbs, spices, lemon juice,
and fat-free or lowfat salad dressings.
Meat, Poultry, Fish, Eggs, Beans, and Nuts
* Choose two to three servings of lean fish,
poultry, meats, or other protein-rich
foods, such as beans, daily. Use meats
labeled "lean" or "extra lean." Trim fat
from meat; take skin off poultry. (Three
ounces of cooked lean beef or chicken
without skin-a piece the size of a deck
of cards-provides about 6 grams of fat; a
piece of chicken with skin or untrimmed
meat of that size may have as much as
twice this amount of fat.) Most beans and
bean products are almost fat-free and are
a good source of protein and fiber.
* Limit intake of high-fat processed meats
such as sausages, salami, and other cold


cuts; choose lower fat varieties by
reading the Nutrition Facts Label.
* Limit the intake of organ meats (three
ounces of cooked chicken liver have about
540 mg of cholesterol); use egg yolks in
moderation (one egg yolk has about 215
mg of cholesterol). Egg whites contain no
cholesterol and can be used freely.
Milk and Milk Products
* Choose skim or lowfat milk, fat-free or
lowfat yogurt, and lowfat cheese.
* Have two to three lowfat servings daily.
Add extra calcium to your diet without
added fat by choosing fat-free yogurt
and lowfat milk more often. [One cup of
skim milk has almost no fat, 1 cup of 1
percent milk has 2.5 grams of fat, 1 cup
of 2 percent milk has 5 grams (one tea-
spoon) of fat, and 1 cup of whole milk
has 8 grams of fat.] If you do not con-
sume foods from this group, eat other
calcium-rich foods (box 3, page 10).

To reduce your intake of fat, saturated fat,
and cholesterol, follow these recommenda-
tions, as illustrated in the Food Guide
Pyramid, which apply to diets consumed
over several days and not to single meals
or foods.
* Use fats and oils sparingly.
* Use the Nutrition Facts Label to help you
choose foods lower in fat, saturated fat,
and cholesterol.
* Eat plenty of grain products, vegetables,
and fruits.
* Choose lowfat milk products, lean meats,
fish, poultry, beans, and peas to get essen-
tial nutrients without substantially increas-
ing calorie and saturated fat intakes.


Choose a diet moderate
in sugars

Sugars come in many forms

Sugars are carbohydrates. Dietary carbohy-
drates also include the complex carbohy-
drates starch and fiber. During digestion all
carbohydrates except fiber break down into
sugars. Sugars and starches occur naturally in
many foods that also supply other nutrients.
Examples of these foods include milk, fruits,
some vegetables, breads, cereals, and grains.
Americans eat sugars in many forms, and
most people like their taste. Some sugars are
used as natural preservatives, thickeners, and
baking aids in foods; they are often added to
foods during processing and preparation or
when they are eaten. The body cannot tell
the difference between naturally occurring
and added sugars because they are identical

Sugars, health, and weight maintenance

Scientific evidence indicates that diets high
in sugars do not cause hyperactivity or
diabetes. The most common type of diabetes
occurs in overweight adults. Avoiding sugars
alone will not correct overweight. To lose
weight reduce the total amount of calories
from the food you eat and increase your
level of physical activity (see pages 19-20).

If you wish to maintain your weight when
you eat less fat, replace the lost calories from
fat with equal calories from fruits, vegetables,
and grain products, found in the lower half
of the Food Guide Pyramid. Some foods that
contain a lot of sugars supply calories but
few or no nutrients (box 12). These foods are
located at the top of the Pyramid. For very
active people with high calorie needs, sugars
can be an additional source of energy.
However, because maintaining a nutritious

brown sugar
corn sweetener
corn syrup
fruit juice concentrate
glucose (dextrose)
high-fructose corn syrup
invert sugar
raw sugar
[table] sugar (sucrose)
A food is likely to be high in sugars if one
of the above terms appears first or second
in the ingredients list, or if several of them
are listed.

diet and a healthy weight is very important,
sugars should be used in moderation by
most healthy people and sparingly by people
with low calorie needs. This guideline cau-
tions about eating sugars in large amounts
and about frequent snacks of foods and bev-
erages containing sugars that supply unnec-
essary calories and few nutrients.

Sugar substitutes

Sugar substitutes such as sorbitol, saccharin,
and aspartame are ingredients in many
foods. Most sugar substitutes do not provide
significant calories and therefore may be use-
ful in the diets of people concerned about
calorie intake. Foods containing sugar substi-
tutes, however, may not always be lower in
calories than similar products that contain
sugars. Unless you reduce the total calories

* Eat fewer foods containing sugars and
starches between meals.
Brush and floss teeth regularly.
Use a fluoride toothpaste.
Ask your dentist or doctor about the
need for supplemental fluoride,
especially for children.

you eat, the use of sugar substitutes will not
cause you to lose weight.

Sugars and dental caries

Both sugars and starches can promote tooth
decay. The more often you eat foods that
contain sugars and starches, and the longer
these foods are in your mouth before you
brush your teeth, the greater the risk for
tooth decay. Thus, frequent eating of foods
high in sugars and starches as between-meal
snacks may be more harmful to your teeth
than eating them at meals and then brushing.
Regular daily dental hygiene, including
brushing with a fluoride toothpaste and floss-
ing, and an adequate intake of fluoride,
preferably from fluoridated water, will help
you prevent tooth decay (box 13).

Use sugars in moderation-sparingly if your
calorie needs are low. Avoid excessive
snacking, brush with a fluoride toothpaste,
and floss your teeth regularly. Read the
Nutrition Facts Label on foods you buy. The
food label lists the content of total carbohy-
drate and sugars, as well as calories.


Choose a diet moderate in
salt and sodium

Sodium and salt are found mainly in processed
and prepared foods

Sodium and sodium chloride-known com-
monly as salt-occur naturally in foods, usu-
ally in small amounts. Salt and other
sodium-containing ingredients are often used
in food processing. Some people add salt
and salty sauces, such as soy sauce, to their
food at the table, but most dietary sodium or
salt comes from foods to which salt has
already been added during processing or
preparation. Although many people add salt
to enhance the taste of foods, their prefer-
ence may weaken with eating less salt.

Sodium is associated with high blood pressure

In the body, sodium plays an essential role in
regulation of fluids and blood pressure.
Many studies in diverse populations have
shown that a high sodium intake is associ-
ated with higher blood pressure. Most evi-
dence suggests that many people at risk for
high blood pressure reduce their chances of
developing this condition by consuming less
salt or sodium. Some questions remain,
partly because other factors may interact with
sodium to affect blood pressure.

Other factors affect blood pressure

Following other guidelines in the Dietary
Guidelines for Americans may also help
prevent high blood pressure. An important
example is the guideline on weight and
physical activity. The role of body weight in
blood pressure control is well documented.
Blood pressure increases with weight and
decreases when weight is reduced. The
guideline to consume a diet with plenty of
fruits and vegetables is relevant because
fruits and vegetables are naturally lower in


sodium and fat and may help with weight
reduction and control. Consuming more
fruits and vegetables also increases potas-
sium intakes which may help to reduce
blood pressure (box 14). Increased physical
activity helps lower blood pressure and con-
trol weight. Alcohol consumption has also
been associated with high blood pressure.
Another reason to reduce salt intake is the
fact that high salt intakes may increase the
amount of calcium excreted in the urine
and, therefore, increase the body's need
for calcium.

Vegetables and fruits in general,
potatoes and sweet potatoes
spinach, swiss chard, broccoli, winter
squashes, and parsnips
dates, bananas, cantaloupes, mangoes,
plantains, dried apricots, raisins, prunes,
orange juice, and grapefruit juice
dry beans, peas, lentils
Milk and yogurt are good sources of
potassium and have less sodium than
cheese; cheese has much less potassium
and usually has added salt.

Does not include complete list of examples.
You can obtain additional information from "Good
Sources of Nutrients," USDA, January 1990. The
Nutrition Facts Label may also provide brand-spe-
cific information on this nutrient.

Most Americans consume more salt than
is needed

Sodium has an important role in the body.
However, most Americans consume more
sodium than is needed. The Nutrition Facts
Label lists a Daily Value of 2,400 mg per day
for sodium [2,400 mg sodium per day is con-
tained in 6 grams of sodium chloride (salt)].
In household measures, one level teaspoon
of salt provides about 2,300 milligrams of
sodium. Most people consume more than
this amount.

There is no way at present to tell who might
develop high blood pressure from eating too
much sodium. However, consuming less salt
or sodium is not harmful and can be recom-
mended for the healthy normal adult
(box 15).

Fresh fruits and vegetables have very little
sodium. The food groups in the Food
Guide Pyramid include some foods that are
high in sodium and other foods that have
very little sodium, or can be prepared in
ways that add flavor without adding salt.
Read the Nutrition Facts Label to compare
and help identify foods lower in sodium
within each group. Use herbs and spices to
flavor food. Try to choose forms of foods
that you frequently consume that are lower
in sodium and salt.


* Read the Nutrition Facts Label to deter-
mine the amount of sodium in the foods
you purchase. The sodium content of
processed foods-such as cereals,
breads, soups, and salad dressings-
often varies widely.
* Choose foods lower in sodium and ask
your grocer or supermarket to offer
more low-sodium foods. Request less
salt in your meals when eating out or
* If you salt foods in cooking or at the
table, add small amounts. Learn to use
spices and herbs, rather than salt, to
enhance the flavor of food.
* When planning meals, consider that
fresh and most plain frozen vegetables
are low in sodium.
* When selecting canned foods, select
those prepared with reduced or no
* Remember that fresh fish, poultry, and
meat are lower in sodium than most
canned and processed ones.
* Choose foods lower in sodium content.
Many frozen dinners, packaged mixes,
canned soups, and salad dressings con-
tain a considerable amount of sodium.
Remember that condiments such as soy
and many other sauces, pickles, and
olives are high in sodium. Ketchup and
mustard, when eaten in large amounts,
can also contribute significant amounts
of sodium to the diet. Choose lower
sodium varieties.
* Choose fresh fruits and vegetables as a
lower sodium alternative to salted snack


If you drink alcoholic
beverages, do so in

A Icoholic beverages supply calories but
ew or no nutrients. The alcohol in these
beverages has effects that are harmful when
consumed in excess. These effects of alcohol
may alter judgment and can lead to depen-
dency and a great many other serious health
problems. Alcoholic beverages have been
used to enhance the enjoyment of meals by
many societies throughout human history. If
adults choose to drink alcoholic beverages,
they should consume them only in modera-
tion (box 16).

Current evidence suggests that moderate
drinking is associated with a lower risk for
coronary heart disease in some individuals.
However, higher levels of alcohol intake
raise the risk for high blood pressure, stroke,
heart disease, certain cancers, accidents, vio-
lence, suicides, birth defects, and overall
mortality (deaths). Too much alcohol may
cause cirrhosis of the liver, inflammation of

Moderation is defined as no more than
one drink per day for women and no
more than two drinks per day for men.

Count as a drink-
12 ounces of regular beer (150 calories)
5 ounces of wine (100 calories)
1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits
(100 calories)


the pancreas, and damage to the brain and
heart. Heavy drinkers also are at risk of mal-
nutrition because alcohol contains calories
that may substitute for those in more nutri-
tious foods.

Who should not drink?

Some people should not drink alcoholic
beverages at all. These include:
* Children and adolescents.
* Individuals of any age who cannot restrict
their drinking to moderate levels. This is a
special concern for recovering alcoholics
and people whose family members have
alcohol problems.
* Women who are trying to conceive or who
are pregnant. Major birth defects, including
fetal alcohol syndrome, have been attrib-
uted to heavy drinking by the mother
while pregnant. While there is no conclu-
sive evidence that an occasional drink is
harmful to the fetus or to the pregnant
woman, a safe level of alcohol intake dur-
ing pregnancy has not been established.
* Individuals who plan to drive or take part
in activities that require attention or skill.
Most people retain some alcohol in the
blood up to 2-3 hours after a single drink.
* Individuals using prescription and over-
the-counter medications. Alcohol may alter
the effectiveness or toxicity of medicines.
Also, some medications may increase
blood alcohol levels or increase the
adverse effect of alcohol on the brain.

If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in
moderation, with meals, and when consump-
tion does not put you or others at risk.


The U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services and the U.S. Department of
Agriculture acknowledge the recommenda-
tions of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory
Committee-the basis for this edition. The
Committee consisted of Doris Howes
Calloway, Ph.D.(chair), Richard J. Havel,
M.D. (vice-chair), Dennis M. Bier, M.D.,
William H. Dietz, M.D., Ph.D., Cutberto
Garza, M.D., Ph.D., Shiriki K. Kumanyika,
Ph.D., R.D., Marion Nestle, Ph.D., M.P.H.,
Irwin H. Rosenberg, M.D., Sachiko T. St. Jeor,
Ph.D., R.D., Barbara 0. Schneeman, Ph.D.,
and John W. Suttie, Ph.D. The Departments
also acknowledge the staff work of the exec-
utive secretaries to the committee: Karil
Bialostosky, M.S., and Linda Meyers, Ph.D.,
from HHS; Eileen Kennedy, D.Sc., R.D., and
Debra Reed, M.S., from USDA.


For additional information on
* Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion,
USDA, 1120 20th Street, NW, Suite 200
North Lobby, Washington, DC 20036.
* Food and Nutrition Information Center,
USDA/National Agricultural Library, Room
304, 10301 Baltimore Boulevard, Beltsville,
MD 20705-2351.
Internet address:
* Cancer Information Service, Office of
Cancer Communications, National Cancer
Institute, Building 31, Room 10A16, 9000
Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20892.
Internet address:
* National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Information Center, P.O. Box 30105,
Bethesda, MD 20824-0105.
* Weight-Control Information Network (WIN)
of the National Institute of Diabetes and
Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 1 WIN
WAY, Bethesda, MD 20892.
Internet address:
* National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and
Alcoholism, 600 Executive Boulevard, Suite
409, Bethesda, MD 20892-7003.
* National Institute on Aging Information
Center, Building 31, Room 5C27, National
Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.
* Office of Food Labeling, Food and Drug
Administration (HFS-150), 200 C Street, SW,
Washington, DC 20204.
* Contact your county extension home econ-
omist (cooperative extension system) or a
nutrition professional in your local public
health department, hospital, American Red
Cross, dietetic association, diabetes associa-
tion, heart association, or cancer society.


The Inited States Dcepa:r
prohibits discrimination ._ .... ....
race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability,
political beliefs, and marital or familial status. (Not all
prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with
disabilities who require alternative means for commu-
nication of program information (Braille, large print,
audiotape, etc.) should contact the USDA Office of
Communications at 202-720-2791.

To file a complaint, write the Secretary of Agriculture,
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC 20250,
or call 202-720-7327 (voice) or 202-720-1127 (TDD).
USDA is an equal opportunity employer.

December 1995

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