Chapter 1 Key Elements of Healthy Eating Patterns

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Over the course of any given day, week, or year, individuals consume foods and beverages[1] in combination—an eating pattern. An eating pattern is more than the sum of its parts; it represents the totality of what individuals habitually eat and drink, and these dietary components act synergistically in relation to health. As a result, the eating pattern may be more predictive of overall health status and disease risk than individual foods or nutrients. Thus, eating patterns, and their food and nutrient components, are at the core of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The goal of the Dietary Guidelines is for individuals throughout all stages of the lifespan to have eating patterns that promote overall health and help prevent chronic disease.


[1] If not specified explicitly, references to “foods” refer to “foods and beverages.”