Skip to main content
Healthy Eating

USDA Food Patterns

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Patterns suggest that people over 50 keep an eye on calories while choosing a variety of healthy foods from five major food groups and limiting solid fats and added sugars.3 forks- one with lettuce, cheese and tomato; one with steak and herbs; one with a strawberry

Calories are the way to measure the energy you get from food. How many calories you need depends on whether you are a man or a woman and how physically active you are each day. Visit How many calories do you need? to choose the calorie total that’s right for you.

The chart below shows how to reach three different daily calorie totals. Suggestions are given as daily amounts, unless shown as weekly.

Daily Calorie Count Examples for the USDA Food Patterns
  1,600 calories 2,000 calories 2,600 calories
Grains 5 ounces or equivalent 6 ounces or equivalent 9 ounces or equivalent
Vegetables 2 cups 2-1/2 cups 3-1/2 cups
Fruits 1-1/2 cups 2 cups 2 cups
Protein foods 5 ounces or equivalent 5-1/2 ounces or equivalent 6-1/2 ounces or equivalent
Seafood 8 ounces/week 8 ounces/week 10 ounces/week
Meat, poultry, eggs 24 ounces/week 26 ounces/week 31 ounces/week
Nuts, seeds, soy products 4 ounces/week 4 ounces/week 5 ounces/week
Dairy products 3 cups 3 cups 3 cups
Oils 22 grams 27 grams 34 grams
Solid fats and added sugars (SoFAS) 121 calories 258 calories 362 calories

Learn about the food groups and maintaining a healthy weight.

Read about this topic in Spanish. Lea sobre este tema en español.

For More Information on Healthy Eating

USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion

USDA Food and Nutrition Information Center   
National Agricultural Library

U.S. Department of Agriculture