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Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 (Policy Document)

Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 (Policy Document)

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Because consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole
grains, milk and milk products, and seafood is lower
than recommended, intake by Americans of some
nutrients is low enough to be of public health con-
cern. These are potassium, dietary fber, calcium, and
vitamin D. In addition, as
discussed below, intake
of iron, folate, and
vitamin B12 is of concern
for specifc population

for More inforMation
See chapter 5 for a discus-
sion of the role of supple-
ments and fortifed foods.


As described in chapter 3: foods and food compo-
nents to reduce,
high intake of sodium is related to
the high prevalence of high blood pressure in the

United States. Dietary potassium can lower blood
pressure by blunting the adverse effects of sodium
on blood pressure. Other possible benefts of an
eating pattern rich in potassium include a reduced
risk of developing kidney stones and decreased
bone loss. The Adequate Intake (AI) for potassium
for adults is 4,700 mg per day. AIs are amounts of
a nutrient that are adequate for almost everyone in
the population; therefore, intake below an AI may
be adequate for some people. Available evidence
suggests that African Americans and individuals
with hypertension especially beneft from increasing
intake of potassium.

Few Americans, including all age-gender groups,
consume potassium in amounts equal to or greater
than the AI. In view of the health benefts of
adequate potassium intake and its relatively low
current intake by the general population, increased
intake of dietary potassium from food sources is
warranted. Individuals with kidney disease and
those who take certain medications, such as ACE
inhibitors, should consult with their health care
provider for specifc guidance on potassium intake.

Dietary sources of potassium are found in all food
groups, notably in vegetables, fruits, and milk and
milk products. Appendix 12 lists food sources of
potassium. Americans should select a variety of food
sources of potassium to meet recommended intake
rather than relying on supplements.

Dietary fber

Dietary fber is the non-digestible form of carbo-
hydrates and lignin. Dietary fber naturally occurs
in plants, helps provide a feeling of fullness, and is
important in promoting healthy laxation. Some of
the best sources of dietary fber are beans and peas,
such as navy beans, split peas, lentils, pinto beans,
and black beans. Additional sources of dietary fber
include other vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and
nuts. All of these foods are consumed below recom-
mended levels in the typical American diet. Bran,
although not a whole grain, is an excellent source
of dietary fber. Appendix 13 lists food sources of
dietary fber.

Dietary fber that occurs naturally in foods may help
reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity,
and type 2 diabetes. Children and adults should
consume foods naturally high in dietary fber in order




to increase nutrient density, promote healthy lipid
profles and glucose tolerance, and ensure normal
gastrointestinal function. Fiber is sometimes added
to foods and it is unclear if added fber provides the
same health benefts as naturally occurring sources.

The AI for fber is 14 g per 1,000 calories, or 25 g
per day for women and 38 g per day for men. Most
Americans greatly underconsume dietary fber, and
usual intake averages only 15 g per day. Breads, rolls,
buns, and pizza crust made with refned four are not
among the best sources of dietary fber, but currently
contribute substantially to dietary fber consumption
because they are ubiquitous in typical American diets.
To meet the recommendation for fber, Americans
should increase their consumption of beans and peas,
other vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and other foods
with naturally occurring fber. Whole grains vary in
fber content. The Nutrition Facts label can be used to
compare whole-grain products and fnd choices that
are higher in dietary fber.


Adequate calcium status is important for optimal
bone health. In addition, calcium serves vital roles
in nerve transmission, constriction and dilation of
blood vessels, and muscle contraction. A signifcant
number of Americans have low bone mass, a risk
factor for osteoporosis, which places them at risk of
bone fractures. Age groups of particular concern due
to low calcium intake from food include children ages
9 years and older, adolescent girls, adult women, as
well as adults ages 51 years and older. All ages are
encouraged to meet their Recommended Dietary
Allowance (RDA) for calcium.

Milk and milk products contribute substantially to
calcium intake by Americans. Calcium recommenda-
tions may be achieved by consuming recommended
levels of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products
and/or consuming alternative calcium sources
(Appendix 14). Removing milk and milk products
from the diet requires careful replacement with other
food sources of calcium, including fortifed foods.
Calcium in some plant foods is well absorbed, but
consuming enough plant foods to achieve the RDA
may be unrealistic for many.

Vitamin D

Adequate vitamin D status is important for health.
Extreme lack of vitamin D (i.e., vitamin D defciency)
results in rickets in children and osteomalacia

(softening of bones) in adults. Adequate vitamin
D also can help reduce the risk of bone fractures.
Although dietary intakes of vitamin D are below
recommendations, recent data from the National
Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)
indicate that more than 80 percent of Americans
have adequate vitamin D blood levels. Vitamin D is
unique in that sunlight on the skin enables the body
to make vitamin D.

In the United States, most dietary vitamin D is
obtained from fortifed foods, especially fuid milk
and some yogurts (Appendix 15). Some other foods
and beverages, such as breakfast cereals, margarine,
orange juice, and soy beverages, also are com-
monly fortifed with this nutrient. Natural sources of
vitamin D include some kinds of fsh (e.g., salmon,
herring, mackerel, and tuna) and egg yolks, which
have smaller amounts. It also is available in the form
of dietary supplements.

The RDAs for vitamin D, which assume minimal
sun exposure, are 600 IU (15 mcg) per day for
children and most adults and 800 IU (20 mcg)
for adults older than 70 years. As intake increases
above 4,000 IU (100 mcg) per day, the potential
risk of adverse effects increases.

Additional nutrients of concern for specifc groups

iron: Substantial numbers of women who are
capable of becoming pregnant, including adolescent
girls, are defcient in iron. They can improve their
iron status by choosing foods that supply heme
iron, which is more readily absorbed by the body,
as well as additional iron sources and enhancers
of iron absorption such as vitamin C-rich foods.
Sources of heme iron include lean meat and poultry
and seafood. Additional iron sources are non-heme
iron in plant foods, such as white beans, lentils, and
spinach, as well as foods enriched with iron, such as
most breads and cereals. However, non-heme iron is
not as readily absorbed by the body. Women who are
pregnant are advised to take an iron supplement as
recommended by an obstetrician or other health care

folate: Folic acid fortification in the United States
has been successful in reducing the incidence
of neural tube defects. However, many women
capable of becoming pregnant still do not meet
the recommended intake for folic acid. All women
capable of becoming pregnant are advised to



consume 400 mcg of synthetic folic acid daily
(from fortified foods and/or supplements) in
addition to food forms of folate from a varied diet.
Women who are pregnant are advised to consume
600 mcg of dietary folate equivalents70


from all sources. Sources of food folate include
beans and peas, oranges and orange juice, and
dark-green leafy vegetables such as spinach and
mustard greens. Folic acid is the form added to
foods such as fortified grain products.

vitamin B12: On average, Americans ages 50
years and older consume adequate vitamin B12.
Nonetheless, a substantial proportion of individuals
ages 50 years and older may have reduced ability
to absorb naturally occurring vitamin B12. However,
the crystalline form of the vitamin is well absorbed.
Therefore, individuals ages 50 years and older are
encouraged to include foods fortifed with vitamin B12,
such as fortifed cereals, or take dietary supplements.

chaPter suMMary

Many Americans do not eat the variety and
amounts of foods that will provide needed nutri-
ents while avoiding excess calorie intake. They
should increase their intake of vegetables, fruits,
whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk
products, seafood, and oils. These food choices
can help promote nutrient adequacy, keep calories
in control, and reduce risks of chronic diseases.
Consuming these foods is associated with a health
beneft and/or with meeting nutrient needs. They
should be emphasized to help Americans close
nutrient gaps and move toward healthful eating
patterns. They provide an array of nutrients, includ-
ing those of public health concern: potassium,
dietary fber, calcium, and vitamin D. It is important
that while increasing intake of these foods, Ameri-
cans make choices that minimize intake of calories
from solid fats and added sugars, which provide
few essential nutrients.

70. Dietary Folate Equivalents (DFE) adjust for the difference in bioavailability of food folate compared with synthetic folic acid. 1 DFE = 1 mcg food folate =
0.6 mcg folic acid from supplements and fortifed foods taken with meals.


getty $130


Chapter 5

Building Healthy
Eating Patterns

Individuals and families can incorporate the recom-
mendations presented in each of the previous
chapters into an overall healthy way to eat—a
healthy eating pattern.71

A growing body of evidence
from research on eating patterns supports these
recommendations. A healthy eating pattern is not
a rigid prescription, but rather an array of options
that can accommodate cultural, ethnic, traditional,
and personal preferences and food cost and avail-
ability. Americans have fexibility in making choices
to create a healthy eating pattern that meets nutrient
needs and stays within calorie limits. This chapter
describes research fndings from clinical trials of
eating patterns and from observational studies of
traditional eating patterns. The chapter also explains
the principles for selecting a healthy eating pattern.
Several templates—adaptable guides for healthy eat-
ing—have been developed that show how Americans
can put these principles into action: the USDA Food
Patterns, lacto-ovo vegetarian or vegan adaptations
of the USDA Food Patterns, and the DASH72

Plan. These templates translate and integrate dietary

recommendations into an overall healthy way to
eat. They identify average daily amounts of foods,
in nutrient-dense forms, to eat from all food groups
and include limits for some dietary components.
Consumers, professionals, and organizations can
make use of these templates to plan healthy eating
patterns or assess food and beverage choices.

Key Recommendations �

Select an eating pattern that meets nutrient
needs over time at an appropriate calorie level.

Account for all foods and beverages
consumed and assess how they fit within a
total healthy eating pattern.

Follow food safety recommendations when
preparing and eating foods to reduce the
risk of foodborne illnesses.

71. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 uses the term “eating pattern,” rather than the term “total diet” (the term used in the 2010 DGAC report), to refer
to the combination of foods and beverages that constitute an individual’s complete dietary intake over time. The term “diet” may be misconstrued as an
eating pattern intended for weight loss.
72. Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.


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