Guidelines For Good Health

To build healthful eating patterns and take action for good health, use these tips from the fifth and newest edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

1. Aim for a Healthy Weight. To be at their best, adults need to avoid gaining weight, and many need to lose weight. If you are overweight, a loss of 5 to 15 percent of your weight may improve your health, ability to function and quality of life. A loss of up to 2 pounds per week is usually safe.

2. Be Physically Active Each Day. Aim to accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week, preferably daily. Moderate physical activity is any activity that requires about as much energy as walking 2 miles in 30 minutes.

3. Let the Food Guide Pyramid Steer Your Food Choices. Build a healthy food base by using the Food Guide Pyramid as a starting point. (See for a copy of the pyramid.) The pyramid recommends eating the following amounts: 6 to 11 servings from the bread, cereal, rice and pasta group; 3 to 5 servings from the vegetable group; 2 to 4 servings from the fruit group; 2 to 3 servings from the milk, yogurt and cheese group; and 2 to 3 servings from the meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs and nuts group. Fats, oils and sweets should be consumed sparingly.

4. Choose a Variety of Grains, Especially Whole Grains, Daily. Foods made from grains (like wheat, rice and oats) help form the foundation of a nutritious diet. They provide vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates (starch and dietary fiber) and other substances important for good health. Select a variety of whole and enriched grains.

5. Choose a Variety of Fruits and Vegetables Daily. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables of different kinds as part of a healthy diet may help protect you against many chronic diseases and also promotes healthy bowel function.

6. Keep Food Safe to Eat. Follow these steps to keep your food safe: Wash hands and surfaces often; separate raw, cooked and ready-to-eat foods while shopping, preparing or storing; cook foods to a safe temperature; promptly refrigerate perishable foods; follow safety instructions on food packages; serve food safely; and, when in doubt, throw food out.

7. Choose a Diet Low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. Keep your intake of saturated fat at less than 10 percent of calories. Use the Nutrition Facts Label on foods to keep your cholesterol intake at 300 milligrams or less per day. In addition, eat only a moderate amount of total fat. If you need to reduce your fat intake, do so primarily by cutting back on saturated fats, like those in high-fat dairy products; and trans fatty acids, like those in commercial fried foods.

8. Moderate Your Sugar Intake. The more often you eat foods that contain sugars and starches and the longer these foods remain in your mouth before you brush your teeth, the greater your risk for tooth decay. Consuming excess calories from foods and drinks with added sugar, such as soft drinks, may contribute to weight gain or lower consumption of more nutritious foods.

9. Choose and Prepare Foods With Less Salt. Healthy children and adults need to consume only small amounts of salt-less than one-fourth of a teaspoon daily—to meet their sodium needs. Most of the salt you eat comes from foods that have salt added during food processing or preparation.

10. If You Drink Alcoholic Beverages, Do So in Moderation. Taking more than one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men can raise the risk of motor vehicle crashes, other injuries, high blood pressure, stroke, violence, suicide and certain types of cancer.
Reprinted with permission of IDEA Health & Fitness Assoaciation,

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