What is a Healthy Diet?

The following summarizes key concepts from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, developed by the US Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, and contains the best, most up-to-date advice from nutrition scientists.

Eat a variety of foods to get the energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals, and fiber you need for good health.

Balance the food you eat with physical activity, maintain or improve your weight to reduce your chances of having high blood pressure, heart disease, a stroke, certain cancers, and the most common kind of diabetes.

Choose a diet with plenty of grain products vegetables, and fruit which are important sources of fiber, complex carbohydrates, and other food components that can help reduce your risk of some chronic diseases.

Choose a diet low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol to reduce your risk of heart disease and certain cancers, and to help you maintain a healthy weight. Because fat contains more than twice the calories of an equal amount of carbohydrates or protein, a diet low in fat can help maintain healthy weight.

Choose a diet moderate in sugars A diet with lots of sugars often has foods with too many calories and too few nutrients and can contribute to tooth decay and overweight.

Choose a diet moderate in salt and sodium which may help reduce the risk of high blood pressure.

If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation because alcoholic beverages supply calories but little or no nutrients and in excess are harmful. Children and adolescents should not drink at all.

Unfortunately, most children do not consume a diet that meets the Dietary Guidelines outlined above. Less than one in five children eat the recommended number of servings of fruit and vegetables daily.