Chapter 1 Key Elements of Healthy Eating Patterns

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About This Chapter

This chapter defines the core concepts of healthy eating and physical activity patterns and focuses on the first three Guidelines:

The Guidelines

  1. Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. All food and beverage choices matter. Choose a healthy eating pattern at an appropriate calorie level to help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, support nutrient adequacy, and reduce the risk of chronic disease.
  1. Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount. To meet nutrient needs within calorie limits, choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods across and within all food groups in recommended amounts.
  1. Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake. Consume an eating pattern low in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. Cut back on foods and beverages higher in these components to amounts that fit within healthy eating patterns.
  1. Shift to healthier food and beverage choices. Choose nutrient-dense foods and beverages across and within all food groups in place of less healthy choices. Consider cultural and personal preferences to make these shifts easier to accomplish and maintain.
  2. Support healthy eating patterns for all. Everyone has a role in helping to create and support healthy eating patterns in multiple settings nationwide, from home to school to work to communities.

The chapter first presents Key Recommendations, which describe the elements of a healthy eating pattern and provide detail on how individuals can follow the Guidelines, followed by a description of the science supporting healthy eating patterns. Then, the Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern at the 2,000-calorie level is provided as an example. A Closer Look Inside a Healthy Eating Pattern provides details on each of the food groups and other dietary components of public health importance in the United States. In addition, the chapter provides two variations of the Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern as examples of additional healthy eating patterns— the Healthy Mediterranean-Style Eating Pattern and the Healthy Vegetarian Eating Pattern. Both of these patterns align with the Guidelines. Finally, this chapter provides an overview of healthy physical activity patterns.