Government Issues Latest Dietary Guidelines

On January 12, 2005, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) published their new Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Here is a brief summary of some key recommendations:

Physical Activity

Engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week, while not exceeding requirements for caloric intake.

Food Groups to Encourage

Eat two cups of fruit and two-and-a-half cups of vegetables daily.

Consume three 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 of the grains consumed should come from whole grains.


Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids and less than 300 milligrams per day of cholesterol.

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.


Choose fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains often. Choose and prepare foods and beverages with little added sugars or caloric sweeteners, in accordance with the amounts suggested by the USDA Food Guide and the DASH Eating Plan.


Drink three cups of low-fat or fat-free milk daily, or eat an equivalent amount of low-fat yogurt or other dairy food.

To read the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 in its entirety, log on to

—Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Food editor’s note: As a dietitian and health educator, I am disappointed with the overall 2005 Dietary Guidelines. I appreciate the emphasis on physical activity for health, psychological well-being and body weight. I am also thankful for the emphasis placed on whole grains, although the recommendations are confusing.

Here are some of my particular concerns:

1. The guidelines focus on decreasing saturated and trans fats, which is great. However, there is no mention of the importance of the essential fats or of which foods contain omega-3 fats.

2. Regarding the recommendation to consume three cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products: This, of course, is to achieve calcium recommendations. However, there is no mention of vitamin D, which is essential for calcium absorption. And Americans who are lactose- or dairy-intolerant will not be satisfied with the recommendation to substitute “lactose-free milk products and/or calcium-fortified foods and beverages” to achieve their calcium needs.

3. Most people with diabetes will not be able to achieve the recommendations for two cups of fruit per day, although eating plenty of nonstarchy vegetables is recommended.

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