Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 is available here.  The Executive Summary, which provides a list of the recommendations is available here

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines includes recommendations based on the most recent evidence-based review of nutrition science and forms the basis for nutrition policy in Federal food, nutrition, education and information programs. According to the recent Guidelines, the recommendations traditionally have been intended for healthy Americans ages 2 years and older; however, the recommendations in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines take into account the reality that a large percentage of Americans are obese or overweight and/or at risk of chronic disease.  As such, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines is intended for Americans ages 2 years and older, including people who are at increased risk of chronic disease.

The key recommendations in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines are listed by chapter:  “Balancing Calories to Manage Weight” (Chapter 2), “Foods and Food Components to Reduce” (Chapter 3), “Foods and Nutrients to Increase” (Chapter 4) and “Building Healthy Eating Patterns” (Chapter 5).  There are 23 recommendations for the general population and six recommendations for specific population groups.  Below are recommendations of interest to the dressing and sauce industry.

Two overarching concepts emerge from the recommendations in the Guidelines:  

Maintain calorie balance to achieve and sustain a healthy weight. Control total calorie intake to manage body weight.  This can be achieved by consuming fewer calories, making informed food and beverage choices and increasing physical activity.   Focus on nutrient-dense foods and beverages. Choose more oils, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seafood, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products.  Also consume fewer foods and beverages that are high in solid fats, added sugars and sodium.   

Recommendations in Chapter 3 - Foods and Food Components to Reduce 


  • Reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) and certain groups (i.e., adults 51 and older and people of any age who are African American or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease) should further reduce the intake of sodium to 1,500 mg. 


  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids by replacing them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.  This recommendation is consistent with the 2005 Dietary Guidelines.
  • Keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible, especially by limiting foods that contain synthetic sources of trans fats, such as partially hydrogenated oils, and by limiting other solid fats.  This recommendation is consistent with the 2005 Dietary Guidelines.


  • Consumer less than 300 mg per day of dietary cholesterol.  This recommendation is consistent with the 2005 Dietary Guidelines.

Calories from Added Fats and Sugars 

  • Reduce the intake of calories from solid fats and added sugars. 

Other Recommendations 

  • Limit the consumption of foods that contain refined grains, especially refined grain foods that contain solid fats, added sugars and sodium.
  • Consume alcohol in moderation. 

Recommendations in Chapter 4 - Foods and Nutrients to Increase

  • Increase vegetable and fruit intake.
  • Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green and red and orange vegetables and beans and peas.
  • Use oils to replace solid fats where possible.  Chapter 4 of the Guidelines states, “Foods that are mainly oil include mayonnaise, oil-based salad dressings, and soft (tub or squeeze) margarine with no trans fatty acids.  Coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and palm oil are high in saturated fatty acids and partially hydrogenated oils contain trans fatty acids.  For nutritional purposes, they should be considered solid fats.”

Refer to the Dietary Guidelines for a complete list of the recommendations in Chapter 4.

Additional details regarding the 2010 Dietary Guidelines are available:  USDA press releaseBackgrounderQuestions and Answers.