Many Americans consume excessive kilocalories but inadequate amounts of some nutrients. Meeting nutrient recommendations must be balanced with keeping caloric levels under control. In the other words, food choices need to change when caloric intake levels are decreased to include foods containing more nutrients.
Dietary intake data and evidence of public health problems indicate that adults consume inadequate amounts of calcium, potassium, dietary fiber, magnesium, and vitamins A,C, and E. In addition, older men, women, and adolescent girls fail to consume adequate amounts of zinc, and older women are not getting enough vitamin B6 from their diets.
The Dietary Guidelines promote the use of foods to meet physiological nutrient needs. In addition to the array of nutrients provided by food, hundreds of other naturally occurring substances present may protect against chronic health conditions. In some cases, fortified foods are advisable sources of nutrients that otherwise might be consumed in less that recommended amounts (e.g., folic acid). Supplements, recommended if a specific nutrient cannot or is not otherwise being met by food intake, cannot replace a healthful diet. A high-quality diet that does not provide excess kilocalories, in addition to physical activity, should enhance the health of most Americans.
♦ Consume a variety of nutrient-dense foods and beverages within and among the basic food groups, while choosing foods that limit the intake of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, salt, and alcohol.
♦ Meet recommended intakes with energy needs by adopting a balanced eating pattern, such as My Pyramid or the DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) Eating Plan.