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The guidelines were released at the National Nutrition Summit. Click here to read more about this historic event.

Have questions about how to follow the guidelines? Ask our nutritionist.

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Dietary Guidelines

Americans are eating better now than they were in the late 1980's, but 90 percent still need to improve their diets, the federal government says in the new Dietary Guidelines For Americans, 2000 released this week.

The guidelines are updated every five years to take into account the latest scientific research and provide the cornerstone of national nutrition policy, shaping everything from the school lunch program to the Food Pyramid.

The latest guidelines are straightforward, easy to read, and full of helpful information and advice. To get copy, visit the U.S. Agriculture Department (USDA) Website. The booklet would be a handy food and fitness guide in any household. It echoes FoodFit's message about healthy eating and active living.

In tandem with the new guidelines, USDA announced it will require mandatory nutrition labeling for fresh meat and poultry, which are currently among the few foods that aren't required to carry nutrition labels. This way consumers will be able to figure out the fat, calories and cholesterol in their chicken or steak before it meets the grill. The rule will be proposed later this summer.

Built around so-called "ABCs for good health," the dietary guidelines make the following 10 recommendations:

Aim For Fitness

Aim for a healthy weight. One in three American adults are overweight, up from one in four a decade ago and one in five children are overweight.Use FoodFit's Healthy Weight Calculator to see if you're on track.

Be physically active each day.The guidelines recommend that both children and adults be physically active for at least 30 minutes each day for good health and to lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes and colon cancer. That means any activity that takes about as much energy as walking two miles in 30 minutes.

Build A Healthy Base

Let the Pyramid guide your food choices. Use the Food Pyramid to shape your eating patterns. It provides a good guide to make sure you get enough nutrients.

Choose a variety of grains daily, especially whole grains. Foods made from grains like wheat, rice and oats provide vitamins, minerals and fiber that are important for good health. Eating plenty of whole grains may help protect against many chronic diseases. Aim for at least six servings a day. Read All About...Whole Grains to learn more.

Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables daily. Check out FoodFit's Season's Pick and the Summer Fruits and Vegetables Guide for information and tips on preparing the season's best. Fruits and vegetables are rich in essential vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Keep food safe to eat. For the first time, the dietary guidelines touch on food safety, with tips on how to prepare and store food. Some 70 million Americans get sick each year from something they ate. See FoodFit's Food Safety Guide.

Choose Sensibly

Choose a diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and moderate in total fat. Limit use of solid fats like butter or hard margarine, instead opt for vegetable oil. Select fat-free or low-fat dairy products and lean meats and poultry.

Choose beverages and foods to moderate your intake of sugars. Be mindful of the sugar in soft drinks and many desserts that come loaded with calories that can contribute to weight gain and crowd out more nutritious foods.

Choose and prepare foods with less salt. Read the nutrition label, particularly on prepared foods to pick foods lower in sodium. Use herbs, spices and flavors to jazz up your meals instead of salt. If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation.

The guidelines suggest limiting alcohol consumption to one drink a day for women or two drinks a day for men, with a meal to slow absorption.

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