USDA and HHS Release Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025
On December 29, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) published the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. The Dietary Guidelines are updated every five years by these agencies and are intended to provide science-based guidance to promote healthy eating, reduce risk of chronic disease, and prevent disease.
These Dietary Guidelines are the first to provide guidance on healthy eating by life stage, from birth through older adulthood, including pregnant and lactating women.
Its key recommendations are:
Limiting added sugars to less than 10% of calories per day for ages 2 and older and to avoid added sugars for infants and toddlers;
Limiting saturated fat to less than 10% of calories per day starting at age 2;
Limiting sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day (or even less if younger than 14);
Limiting alcoholic beverages to 2 drinks or less a day for men and 1 drink or less a day for women.
The Dietary Guidelines make the following comments regarding plant-based products. First, the Guidelines state that shifts in protein intake are needed and recommend replacing processed or high-fat meats with seafood or beans, peas, and lentils to reduce intake of fat and sodium. The Guidelines also include soy beverages (i.e., soy milk) and soy yogurt as part of the dairy group because they are similar to milk and yogurt in nutrient composition and use in meals. In contrast, other plant-based products sold as “milks” (e.g., almond, rice , coconut, oat, and hemp “milks”), while they may contain calcium and be consumed as a source of calcium, are not included as part of the dairy group because their overall nutritional profile is not similar to dairy milk and fortified soy beverages.
While the Dietary Guidelines are intended as guidance for all Americans and the scientific evidence that was reviewed is representative of both those who are healthy and those who are at risk of diet-related chronic conditions and diseases, they emphasize that individuals, especially those with chronic diseases, must adapt the Dietary Guidelines to meet their specific needs.