Healthy eating

Tips for creating healthy eating patterns

There's growing evidence that there's a close connection between healthy eating patterns and positive health outcomes. In fact, healthy eating is closely tied to specific health outcomes like these:

  • Strong evidence shows a connection between healthy eating patterns and a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease.1
  • Moderate evidence shows that healthy eating patterns are associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancers (such as colorectal and postmenopausal breast cancers) and obesity.

Following current guidelines may help you make healthier food choices

The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U. S. Department of Agriculture publish dietary guidelines every 5 years. These guidelines may help Americans make healthier choices to help prevent chronic diseases and promote healthier eating habits.2 The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends a healthy eating pattern that considers all foods and beverages within an appropriate calorie level.

Sources of nutrition to help develop healthy eating patterns

Note that these recommendations may vary by age, gender, and activity level. 2, 3


  • Any fruit or 100% fruit juice counts as part of the fruit group. Fruits may be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried, and may be whole, cut-up, or pureed.
  • 1 cup of fruit or 100% fruit juice, or ½ cup of dried fruit can be considered as 1 cup from the fruit group.


  • Any vegetable or 100% vegetable juice counts as a member of the vegetable group. Vegetables may be raw or cooked; fresh, frozen, canned or dried/ dehydrated; and may be whole, cut-up, or mashed.
  • Based on their nutrient content, vegetables are organized into five subgroups: dark-green vegetables, starchy vegetables, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas and other vegetables.


  • Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain is a grain product.
  • Grains are divided into 2 subgroups, whole grains and refined grains.
  • At least half of all the grains eaten should be whole grains.


  • All fluid milk products, many foods made from milk, and foods made from milk that retain their calcium content are considered part of this food group.
  • Foods made from milk that have little to no calcium, such as cream cheese, cream, and butter, are not part of this group.
  • Most dairy group choices should be fat-free or low-fat.


  • All foods made from meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, processed soy products, nuts and seeds are considered part of the protein group.
  • Meat and poultry choices should be lean or low-fat.
  • Vegetarian options include beans and peas, processed soy products, and nuts and seeds.

Healthy eating patterns include:

  • A variety of vegetables from all subgroups such as dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas) and starches.
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits.
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grains.
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese and/or fortified soy beverages.
  • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes, nuts, seeds and soy products.

Facts about eating and health

Half of all American adults have one or more preventable diseases related to poor eating and physical inactivity.2

Examples include:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Some cancers
  • Poor bone health