The Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern is based on the types and proportions of foods Americans typically consume, but in nutrient-dense forms and appropriate amounts. It is designed to meet nutrient needs while not exceeding calorie requirements and while staying within limits for overconsumed dietary components.
The methodology used to develop and update this Pattern continues to be grounded in that of the food guides USDA has developed for the last 30 years. This methodology includes using current food consumption data to determine the mix and proportions of foods to include in each group, using current food composition data to select a nutrient-dense representative for each food, and calculating nutrient profiles for each food group using these nutrient-dense representative foods. As would be expected, most foods in their nutrient-dense forms do contain some sodium and saturated fatty acids. In a few cases, such as whole-wheat bread, the most appropriate representative in current Federal databases contains a small amount of added sugars. Detailed information about the representative foods, nutrient profiles, and Patterns is available on the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion website.
Amounts of each food group and subgroup are adjusted as needed, within the limits of the range of typical consumption when possible, to meet nutrient and Dietary Guidelines standards while staying within the limits for calories and overconsumed dietary components. Standards for nutrient adequacy aim to meet the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA), which are designed to cover the needs of 97 percent of the population, and Adequate Intakes (AI), which are used when an average nutrient requirement cannot be determined. The Patterns meet these standards for almost all nutrients. For a few nutrients (vitamin D, vitamin E, potassium, choline), amounts in the Patterns are marginal or below the RDA or AI standard for many or all age-sex groups. In most cases, an intake of these nutrients below the RDA or AI is not considered to be of public health concern. For more information on potassium and vitamin D, see Chapter 2, Underconsumed Nutrients and Nutrients of Public Health Concern.
The Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern is the base USDA Food Pattern. While the Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern is substantially unchanged from the base USDA Food Pattern of the 2010 edition of the Dietary Guidelines, small changes in the recommended amounts reflect updating the Patterns based on current food consumption and composition data. The Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern includes 12 calorie levels to meet the needs of individuals across the lifespan. To follow this Pattern, identify the appropriate calorie level, choose a variety of foods in each group and subgroup over time in recommended amounts, and limit choices that are not in nutrient-dense forms so that the overall calorie limit is not exceeded.