What Is “Healthy” Eating?

If you are striving toward more healthful eating, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans provides a solid starting point. This advice describes a healthful eating plan as one that:

  • Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products;
  • Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans (legumes), eggs, and nuts and seeds; and
  • Is low in solid fats (saturated and trans fats), cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.

What does this mean for an average adult, targeting an average 1,800-2,000 calorie intake daily?


Choose Enriched and Whole Grains

Make at least half of them as whole grain, so each day, 3 ounces enriched grain foods and 3 ounces whole grains. Fiber-rich Dreamfields Pasta is the foundation to easy, delicious and nutritious meals.

1 ounce =
  • ½ cup cooked pasta, rice, barley or other grains
  • 1 regular slice bread
  • 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal
  • a 6-inch tortilla
  • 1 small biscuit or muffin
  • ½ English muffin
  • 1 mini bagel

Vary Your Vegetables

Fit in about 2 ½ cups of vegetables during the day. Enjoy a variety of colors, especially dark-green vegetables, red and orange vegetables, and beans and peas.

1 cup =
  • 1 cup raw or cooked vegetables
  • 2 cup raw, leaf greens

Focus on Fruits

Enjoy 1 ½ to 2 cups of a variety of fruits daily. Choose whole fruit more often than juice.

1 cup =
  • 1 cup whole or cut-up fruit
  • 1 cup 100% juice
  • ½ cup dry fruit

Get Your Calcium-rich Foods

Fit in an equivalent of 3 cups of low-fat and fat-free dairy foods daily. Replace higher fat dairy foods with lower fat choices.

1 cup =
  • 1 cup milk or yogurt
  • 1 ½ ounces cheddar, Swiss or mozzarella cheese
  • 2 ounces American cheese
  • 2 cups cottage cheese
  • 1 cup fortified soy beverages

Go Lean with Protein Foods

Plan meals and snacks to include 5 to 5 ½ ounces from a variety of lean protein foods per day. Choose seafood in place of some meat and poultry.

1 ounce =
  • 1 ounce cooked lean meat, skinless poultry or fish
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup cooked beans (legumes) or peas (lentils)
  • ¼ cup tofu
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • ½ ounce nuts or seeds

Limit Solid Fats

Use oils instead of solid fats (e.g. butter, stick margarine) when you can; still go easy. For less solid fats, choose lean protein foods and low-fat or fat-free dairy. Fish, seeds and nuts have healthy oils (fats).
Nutrition Facts - Sugar

Cut Back on Added Sugars

Drink fewer or no regular sodas, fruit drinks and energy drinks. Eat less cake, cookies and candy. Use food labels to choose foods with less added sugars.
Nutrition Facts - Sodium

Limit Salt and Sodium

Use the food labels to choose foods low in sodium and prepare foods with little salt. Try to keep your day’s sodium intake under 2,300 milligrams daily.

Learn more at www.choosemyplate.gov. Keep in mind that these recommendations are for the adult general public and are not meant to treat or manage any specific health condition. Consult with your health care team to determine what eating plan is most appropriate for you.

Health Concern Definitions

Looking for a recipe that involves a specific nutrient you want more or less of? Here’s how we defined these additional categories:

High Fiber

≥5 grams per serving
[Source of Recommendation]


≤140 mg per serving
[Source of Recommendation]


≤3 grams per serving
[Source of Recommendation]

Low-Saturated Fat

≤1 gram per serving
[Source of Recommendation]


<6.5 g total fat, ≤1 g saturated fat, less than 0.5 g trans fat, ≤20 mg cholesterol, ≤480 mg sodium
[Source of Recommendation]

Quick & Easy

30 minutes or less to prep and cook; 6 or fewer ingredients (excluding water, salt, and pepper)