Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans provide science-based advice to promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases through diet and physical activity. The DGA are a statement of federal nutrition policy and, as such, form the basis of all federal food assistance as well as nutrition education and information programs. For example, the DGA are used in menu planning in the National School Lunch Program; in educational materials used by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); and in setting the Healthy People objectives for the nation. In addition, the Secretaries of HHS and USDA review all federal publications related to dietary guidance to ensure consistency with the DGA.

Developed for policy makers, nutrition professionals, and educators, the DGA were initially published in 1980 by HHS and USDA, and have been updated every 5 years. The most recent edition was drafted in 2005 by a committee of scientists after reviewing the recommendations of the DGAC (see above) and the associated public comments. Because of the competing benefits and risks associated with seafood consumption pointed out in the DGAC report, drafters of the DGA stopped short of making a quantified key recommendation for fish or seafood. Instead, they recommended that individuals “Keep total fat intake between 20 to 35 percent of calories, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils” (DGA, 2005). The accompanying text cites evidence for a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease among the general population associated with the consumption of certain fatty acids from seafood.


After the release of the DGA, the USDA released the MyPyramid food guidance system along with the new MyPyramid symbol (USDA, 2005). This food guidance system was developed to help Americans make healthy food choices, given their sex, age, and activity level. Recommended quantities are provided for each food group (grains, fruits, vegetables, milk, meat and beans, oils, and discretionary calories), with fish represented in the meat and beans group. While no specific quantity of fish is recommended, “selection tips” suggest that Americans “select fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, trout, and herring, more often” (Source:

American Heart Association Guidelines

The American Heart Association (AHA) Dietary Guidelines are based on the findings of the nutrition committee of the AHA and were last revised

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement