Read below for more information on the following topics:
Physical activity is any form of exercise or movement of the body that uses energy. To get the health benefits of physical activity, include activities that make you breathe harder and make your heart beat faster. These aerobic activities include things like brisk walking, running, dancing, swimming, and playing basketball. Also include strengthening activities to make your muscles stronger, like push-ups and lifting weights.
Ages 2-5: Play actively every day.
Ages 6-17: Be physically active for at least 60 minutes each day.
Ages 18 & up: Be physically active for at least 150 minutes each week.
Some activity is better than none. The more you do, the greater the health benefits and the better you’ll feel.
Use the Nutrition Facts label and the ingredients list to choose whole grains that are a good or excellent source of dietary fiber. Good sources of fiber contain 10 to 19 percent of the Daily Value per serving, and excellent sources of dietary fiber contain 20 percent or more.
When choosing a refined grain, check the ingredient list to make sure it is made with enriched flour. Enriched grains are refined grain products with B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid) and iron added.
Eat fewer refined grain products that have a lot of solid fat or added sugars – such as cookies, cakes, sweet rolls, pastries, and donuts.
When eating canned vegetables choose those labeled as low sodium, reduced sodium, or no salt added.
Green peas and green (string) beans are not considered to be “Beans & Peas.” Green peas are grouped with “Starchy Vegetables.” Green beans are grouped with “Other Vegetables” such as onions, lettuce, celery, and cabbage because their nutrient content is similar to those foods.
When eating canned fruit choose unsweetened or fruit canned in 100% juice.
Unless a juice package states it is “100% juice,” it is not 100% juice. Sweetened juice products with minimal juice content, such as juice drinks, are considered sugar-sweetened beverages rather than fruit juice.
If you currently drink whole milk, gradually switch to lower fat versions. Lower fat milk has the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients, but fewer Calories.
Milk and yogurt are better sources of potassium and are lower in sodium than most cheese. Also, most milk is fortified with vitamin D.
If you are lactose intolerant, try lactose-free milk, drink smaller amounts of milk at a time, or try fortified soymilk (soy beverage).
Choose meat cuts that are low in fat and ground beef that is extra lean (at least 90% lean).
Seafood includes fish (such as salmon, tuna, trout, and tilapia) and shellfish (such as shrimp, crab, and oysters). Select some seafood that is higher in oils and lower in mercury, such as salmon, trout, and herring.
Choose a variety of protein foods, including some plant protein foods, such as beans, peas, soy products, nuts, and seeds.
Information for Specific Population Groups
Oils are not a food group but are emphasized because they contribute essential fatty acids (linoleic and alpha-linolenic) and vitamin E.
Many common oils, such as olive, canola, corn, peanut, safflower, soybean, and sunflower oils, are extracted from plants. Oils are also naturally present in foods such as olives, nuts, avocados, and seafood.
Use the Nutrition Facts label to choose foods that contain more unsaturated fat, less saturated fat and no trans fat.
Sodium is an essential nutrient but is needed by the body in relatively small quantities. Virtually all Americans eat too much and should reduce the amount they eat.
On average, the higher your sodium intake, the higher your blood pressure. And as sodium intake decreases, so does blood pressure. Keeping blood pressure in the normal range reduces risk of cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease.
Most sodium in the diet comes from salt added during food processing. The problem of excess sodium is due to both high-sodium foods and frequent consumption of foods that contain lower amounts of sodium such as yeast breads.
Empty Calories are the Calories from food components, such as solid fats and added sugars, that provide little nutritional value. Empty Calories are part of Total Calories.
In some foods, like most candies and sodas, all the Calories come from ingredients with little nutritional value. These foods are often called “Empty Calorie foods.”
Empty Calories from solid fats or added sugars can also be found in some other foods that contain important nutrients. For example, chocolate milk contains the nutrients of milk, but also some Empty Calories from the chocolate syrup, and fried chicken contains the nutrients of chicken, plus some Empty Calories from the skin and frying fat.
Limit the amount of solid fats and added sugars when cooking or eating (e.g. trimming fat from meat, using less butter and stick margarine, using less table sugar).
Choose fewer and smaller portions of foods and drinks that contain solid fats and/or added sugars, such as grain-based desserts, sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages, cheese, pizza, sausages, and hot dogs. Many of these foods can be found in forms with less or no solid fat or added sugars.
The alcohol and any added sugars in alcoholic beverages also count as Empty Calories.
Women capable of becoming pregnant
Choose foods such as meat, poultry, and seafood that supply heme iron, which is more readily absorbed by the body. Also choose additional iron sources, and enhancers of iron absorption such as vitamin C-rich foods.
Consume 400 micrograms per day of synthetic folic acid (from fortified foods and/or supplements) in addition to food forms of folate from a varied diet.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
Consume 8 to 12 ounces of seafood per week from a variety of seafood types.
Due to their high methyl mercury content, limit white (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces per week and do not eat the following four types of fish: tilefish, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel.
If pregnant, take an iron supplement and a folic acid supplement, as recommended by an obstetrician or other health care provider.
Individuals ages 50 years and older
Consume foods fortified with vitamin B12, such as fortified cereals, or take dietary supplements.
People who are age 51 and older need to reduce sodium to 1500 mg a day.
Individuals ages 71 years and older
Vitamin D recommendations for people ages 71 and older are higher than for other age groups. Individuals in this group should consume 800 IU (20 micrograms) of vitamin D a day. Check with your health care provider for more information about your vitamin D needs.
Individuals who are African American
African Americans need to reduce sodium to 1500 mg a day.