Topic 1.2: What are the Dietary Guidelines and why do we need them?

What are the Dietary Guidelines, and why do we need them?

  • Dietary Guidelines have been developed and established for public health and nutrition programmes to contribute to healthy nutritional habits and promote optimal health.
  • Many countries have developed dietary guidelines for infants, young children, adults, and older populations and for specific time periods (e.g., lactation and pregnancy).
  • The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) encourages countries to integrate sustainability in their dietary guidelines.

According to the European Food Information Council (EUFIC).

Available at: 

Dietary Guidelines for the healthy adult population according to the World Health Organization (WHO)

For a healthy and balanced diet, try to eat fruits, vegetables, legumes (e.g., lentils, beans), nuts, and whole grains (e.g., unprocessed maize, millet, oats, wheat, brown rice) EVERY DAY. 

Dietary recommendations:

  • On a daily basis, 2 cups of fruit (4 servings), 2.5 cups of vegetables (5 servings), 180 g of grains, and 160 g of meat and beans are recommended.
  • On a weekly basis, red meat can be eaten 1−2 times per week and poultry 2−3 times per week.

Dietary Tips for the healthy adult population according to WHO he healthy

Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables (FV) a day (at least 400 g). Potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava and other starchy roots are not classified as fruit or vegetables. Opt for a variety and seasonal F&V as part of meals or snacks.

Limit total energy intake from free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake (which is equivalent to 50 g or 12 teaspoons for a healthy adult consuming about 2000 calories per day). Free sugars are all sugars added to foods or drinks by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, as well as sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.

Limit total energy intake from fat to less than 30%
Limit saturated fat to less than 30% of total energy intake. Prefer foods with unsaturated fat (.g., oils found in fish, avocado, nuts, and in sunflower, soybean, canola and olive oils) than foods with saturated fat (e.g., fatty meat, butter, cream, hard cheese). Industrially-produced trans fats (found in processed food, fast food, snacks, fried food, frozen pizza, pies, cookies, margarines and spreads) are NOT part of a healthy diet and should be avoided.

Limit salt to less than 5 g per day (equivalent to approximately 1 teaspoon) and use iodized salt.

Ten steps to healthy eating according to the Greek Dietary Guidelines

The food/nutrient intake and its relationship to health outcomes

An unhealthy diet can contribute to the development of non-communicable diseases, such as: 

  • Cardiovascular Diseases
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Cancer