Nutritional Recommendations for Adults

"How much should I be eating?" The dietary guidelines listed below will answer this question and help you know what and how much to eat. This is a sample of a healthy eating pattern for 2,000 calories per day.

Use a variety of foods every day.

  • Fruit - 2 cups/day
  • Vegetables - 2 cups/day
  • Nonfat and low-fat dairy products - 3 cups/day
  • Whole-grain breads, cereal, pasta, starchy vegetables and beans - 6 ounces/day
  • Lean meat, skinless poultry, fish, eggs and nuts - 5 ounces/day

Eat foods low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol.

  • Limit daily fat intake to 25-35% of calories consumed and saturated fat intake to less than 10% of daily calories.
  • Avoid trans-fat as much as possible.
  • Aim for the majority of fat intake to come from the "fats," which are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. These fats are found in nuts, seeds, fish and vegetable oils.
  • Limit dietary cholesterol as a way to consume a healthy eating pattern.

Eat moderate amounts of sugar.

  • Limit added sugars to less than 10% of calories per day.
  • Read food labels and avoid foods with added sugar.
  • Eat sweet foods sparingly.

Eat a limited amount of salt and sodium.

  • Limit sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg a day. If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, are African-American, or are 51 years and older, limit sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg a day.
  • Remember: 1 teaspoon of salt = 2,400 mg
  • Season foods with garlic and fresh or dried herbs in place of salt.
  • Keep the salt shaker off the table during meals to avoid adding salt.

Drink adequate amounts of water.

Water is used by every system in the body, do adequate water intake is important for good health. Total water intake includes water from all fluids, including drinking water, other beverages (coffee, tea, juice, etc.), and foods with high water content, such as celery, tomatoes, broth soup and melons.

The amount of water intake needed depends on the individual and their activity level, climate and health. Most people drink enough water by drinking when thirsty and with meals.

Exercise portion control.

Use everyday items and your plate to calculate appropriate portion sizes.


Updated references 06/22/19