Women's Health USA 2007
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Health Status > Health Behaviors


The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2005 recommends eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods while not exceeding caloric needs. For most people, this means eating a daily assortment of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and beans, and low-fat or fat-free milk products, while limiting added sugar, sodium, saturated and trans fats, and cholesterol.1

Some fats, mostly those that come from sources of polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils, are an important part of a healthy diet. However, high intake of saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol may increase the risk of coronary heart disease. Most Americans should consume fewer than 10 percent of calories from saturated fats, less than 300 mg/day of cholesterol, and keep trans fatty acid consumption to a minimum. In 2003–04, 63.5 percent of women exceeded the recommended maximum daily intake of saturated fat—most commonly non-Hispanic White women and non-Hispanic Black women (65.9 and 64.4 percent, respectively). Salt, or sodium chloride, also plays an important role in heart health, as high salt intake can contribute to high blood pressure. Almost 70 percent of women exceed the recommended intake of less than 2,300 mg/day of sodium (about 1 teaspoon of salt).

Folate is an important part of a healthy diet, especially among women of childbearing age, since it can help reduce the risk of neural tube defects early in pregnancy. The Healthy People 2010 objective for red blood cell (RBC) folate concentration is 220 ng/mL. Non-pregnant women aged 15–44 have met this goal, but average RBC folate levels fell from 260 ng/mL in 2001-02 to 235 ng/mL in 2003-04, representing a decrease of almost 10 percent. The largest decline was among non-Hispanic White women (16 percent), but rates among non-Hispanic Black and Mexican American women also dropped.

1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, January 2005.


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Women's Health USA 2007 is not copyrighted. Readers are free to duplicate and use all or part of the information contained on this page. Suggested Citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Women's Health USA 2007. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2007.