Comparing the HEI-2015, HEI–2010 & HEI–2005


The HEI-2015, HEI–2010 and HEI–2005 have several features in common. They all:

  • have both adequacy components (dietary components to increase) and moderation components (dietary components to decrease). Across the versions, components reflecting similar aspects of the diet have been included, such as fruits, vegetables, key vegetable subgroups such as green vegetables and beans, dairy, grains, protein foods, fatty acids, and limits on sodium and empty calories.
  • use a density approach to set standards, e.g., per 1000 calories or as a percent of calories.
  • employ least-restrictive standards for recommendations that vary by energy level, sex, and/or age, namely standards that are easiest to achieve.


The HEI-2015, HEI–2010 and HEI-2005 also differ in several respects, reflecting changes between the 2015, 2010 and 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Some of the differences are noted below:

  • In 2010, Greens and Beans replaced Dark Green and Orange Vegetables and Legumes to emphasize that dark green vegetables and beans and peas (also known as legumes) are the two vegetable subgroups for which intakes are furthest from recommended levels. The Greens and Beans component remains an adequacy component in HEI-2015. However, in HEI-2015, legumes are no longer allocated to either the protein components or the vegetable components. Instead, legumes are allocated in all of these components, including Total Vegetables, Greens and Beans, Total Protein Foods, and Seafood and Plant Proteins.
  • In 2010, Seafood and Plant Proteins were introduced to capture specific choices from the protein foods group. The Seafood and Plant Proteins component remains an adequacy component in HEI-2015.
  • In 2010, Fatty Acids, a ratio of poly- and mono-unsaturated to saturated fatty acids, replaced the two components previously called Oils and Saturated Fat. This component recognizes the recommendation to replace saturated fat with mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids and remains an adequacy component in HEI-2015.
  • In 2015, the Empty Calories component (called SoFAAS in 2005) was replaced with two discrete categories, Saturated Fat and Added Sugars, because the 2015 Dietary Guidelines emphasized limiting added sugars in the diet, and for the first time recommended that consumption of added sugars be kept to less than 10% of caloric intake. Additionally, with the replacement came two changes – solid fats were replaced by saturated fatty acids for the purpose of calculating the standard; and alcohol was removed as an item that contributes an effect to a specific component. Though excessive calories from alcohol are now no longer included within a separate component, total alcohol calories are included in the total calories (the denominator by which almost all standards are calculated); thus these calories are still accounted for in that way.
  • In 2010, a moderation component, Refined Grains, replaced the adequacy component, Total Grains, to assess over-consumption because the 2010 Dietary Guidelines emphasized that consumption of these foods is too high. Refined Grains remains a moderation component in HEI-2015.

Comparison of the Components & Scoring Standards in the HEI-2005, HEI-2010 & HEI-2015

  Construct Max Points Component Standard for Maximum Points1 Standard for Minimum Score of Zero1
2005 2010 2015 2005 2010 2015
Adequacy Fruits 10 Total Fruits (5pts) ≥0.8 cup No Fruits
Whole Fruits (5pts) ≥0.4 cup No Whole Fruits
Vegetables 10 Total Veg. (5pts) ≥1.1 cup No Vegetables
Dark Green/Orange Veg. & Legumes (5pts) ≥0.4 cup --- No Dark Green/Orange Veg. or Legumes ---
Greens & Beans (5pts) --- ≥0.2 cup --- No Dark Green Vegetables or Legumes2
Grains 10 Total Grains (5pts) ≥3.0 cup --- No Grains ---
Whole Grains3 (5pts/10pts) --- ≥1.5 oz No Whole Grains
Dairy 10 Milk/Dairy4 (10pts) ≥1.3 cup No Dairy
Protein Foods 10 Meat & Beans ≥2.5 oz --- No Meat or Beans ---
Total Protein Foods (5pts) --- ≥2.5 oz --- No Protein Foods
Seafood & Plant Proteins (5pts) --- ≥0.8 oz --- No Seafood or Plant Proteins
Fats 10 Oils ≥12 g of oil --- No Oil ---
Fatty Acid Ratio --- (PUFAs + MUFAs)/SFAs ≥2.5 --- (PUFAs + MUFAs)/SFAs ≤1.2
Moderation Refined Grains 10 Refined Grains --- ≤1.8 oz --- ≥4.3 oz
Sodium 10 Sodium ≤0.7 gram ≤1.1 gram ≥2.0 grams
Empty Calories 20 SoFAAs (2005)
Empty Calories (2010)
≤20% of energy ≤19% of energy --- ≥ 50% of energy ---
Added Sugars (10pts) --- ≤6.5% of energy --- ≥26% of energy
Saturated Fats (10pts) ≤7% of energy ≤8% of energy ≥15% of energy ≥16% of energy

1: All standards represent amounts per 1,000 kcal except for Fatty Acids

2: Legumes includes beans and peas.

3: Whole grains received a maximum of 5 points in HEI-2005; it received a maximum of 10 points in HEI-2010 and HEI-2015

4: Component name was Milk in HEI-2005 and was Dairy in HEI-2010 and HEI-2015

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