Eating for Life

Nutrition for adults

Recommended calories per day: For a sedentary woman, 1,600; for an active woman, 2,200; for sedentary men, 2,200; active men, 2,800. The USDA Food Guide Pyramid is a guide to good eating. Here we spotlight examples of foods adults should consume more or less of as part of an overall healthy diet.


In the spotlight: Olive oil is considered a "good fat." The hydroxytrosol and oleuropein in it may protect against breast cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

Choices: Choose liquid oils; avoid saturated and hydrogenated fats.

Use: sparingly


In the spotlight: Cheese. Americans love it. But instead of smothering a dish in cheese, a better way to enjoy it might be a cheese plate, which includes small portions of high-quality cheese served with dried fruit, nuts and a glass of wine. Or eat cheese as a dessert the way the Europeans do.

Choices: Keep your dairy low-fat whenever possible.

2 to 3 servings a day


In the spotlight: Salmon contains omega-3, a fatty acid that promotes heart health. The American Heart Association recommends eating two 6-ounce servings of salmon weekly. Other fatty fish include fresh tuna, herring, mackerel, sardines and lake trout.

Choices: Lean meat, poultry, fish, beans, nuts, eggs.

2 to 3 servings a day


In the spotlight: When it comes to fruits and vegetables, the richer the color the more phytochemicals they contain. Plums (and prunes) are loaded with disease-fighting antioxidants that may boost heart health.

Choices: Apples, apricots, berries, cherries, figs, grapes, melons, pineapple, pomegranates.

2 to 4 servings a day


In the spotlight: Sweet bell peppers (and spicy chili peppers) contain beta-carotene, an antioxidant that offers protection against heart disease and vision loss. To maximize the bio-availability of beta-carotene, cook peppers only until crisp-tender in a tablespoon or two of monounsaturated fat, such as olive oil.

Choices: Artichokes, asparagus, avocados, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, dark leafy greens, corn, peas, mushrooms, spinach, salad greens, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips and winter squash.

3 to 5 servings a day


In the spotlight: Couscous is an underused grain that's quick and easy to prepare. Made from semolina wheat, it can be used to replace rice or pasta in many dishes.

Choices: Once you're comfortable with couscous, graduate to such high-protein, high-fiber grain sources as quinoa, buckwheat, teff and amaranth.

6 to 11 servings a day