Updated nutritional guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) aim to reduce the rates of obesity and prevent chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is the 8th edition of the Dietary Guidelines, which are updated every 5 years.

The recommendations fit into 5 broader guidelines:

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  • Maintain a healthy diet throughout your life
  • Eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods, and manage portion sizes
  • Limit caloric intake from added sugars and saturated fats, and reduce intake of sodium
  • Shift current food and drink choices to healthier alternatives
  • Support others in healthy eating

To build and maintain healthy eating patterns, the guidelines recommend that Americans focus on:

  • A variety of vegetables
  • Fruits (with an emphasis on whole fruits)
  • Grains (at least half of which should be whole grains)
  • Fat-free/low-fat dairy
  • A variety of proteins including seafood, lean meats, lean poultry, eggs, legumes, soy products, nuts, and seeds
  • Oils including those from plants and those that occur naturally in nuts, seeds, seafood, olives, and avocados

The guidelines also recommend that Americans consume <10% of daily calories from added sugars, <10% of daily calories from saturated fats, and <2,300 mg of sodium per day for people aged 14 and older (those younger than 14 should consume less sodium). In addition, the 2010 version of the guidelines advised limiting dietary cholesterol to 300 mg per day – the new guidelines suggest consuming dietary items with as little cholesterol as possible.

The 2015 guidelines also include new information on caffeine. Consuming 3 to 5 8-oz cups of coffee (for up to 400 mg of caffeine a day) can be incorporated into a healthy eating pattern. Other caffeinated beverages are not recommended. For those who do not already consume dietary items with caffeine, the guidelines do not recommend adding them to their diet.

“Protecting the health of the American public includes empowering them with the tools they need to make healthy choices in their daily lives,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. “By focusing on small shifts in what we eat and drink, eating healthy becomes more manageable.”

The updated guidelines are based on recommendations from the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and comments from public and federal agencies.

To support their patients in making healthy choices, healthcare professionals can visit Health.gov for resources provided by HHS. Consumers can find tools from the USDA on ChooseMyPlate.gov. The full guidelines are available at dietaryguidelines.gov.


  1. Dietary Guidelines. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion website. http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/. Updated January 11, 2016. Accessed January 11, 2016.