Developing the Healthy Eating Index–2010

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans continued the 2005 Guidelines' emphasis on several important aspects of diet quality, including whole grains, various types of vegetables, and specific types of fat. The 2010 Guidelines also differed from the previous Guidelines in several respects, including an increased emphasis on seafood and plant proteins and on reducing consumption of refined grains. As a result, the HEI–2005 needed to be revised and updated.

Staff at NCI's ARP and USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP)External Web Site Policy collaborated to revise the HEI, and a new version, the HEI–2010, was released in February 2013. A paper describing the HEI–2010 in detailExternal Web Site Policy is available.

This revision also provided an opportunity for USDA and NCI to evaluate the psychometric properties of the new index. Results from the evaluation are expected to be published in late 2013 and will be available on this site.

The HEI–2010 is based in large part on USDA's 2010 food patterns, which translates recommendations in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines into specific, quantified dietary recommendations. All of the food groups contained in USDA's food patterns are represented in HEI–2010 components.

The HEI–2010 comprises 12 components that sum to a maximum total score of 100. Because USDA food pattern recommendations for amounts of food groups, oils, and empty calories are couched in terms of absolute amounts that vary according to energy level, the HEI–2010 scores use standards that are expressed as either a percent of calories or per 1,000 calories. This "density" approach uncouples diet quality from quantity. The one exception is fatty acids, which are expressed as a ratio of unsaturated fatty acids to saturated fatty acids. The HEI–2010 components and scoring standards are shown in the table below.

HEI–20101 Components & Scoring Standards
Component Maximum points Standard for maximum score Standard for minimum score of zero
Total Fruit2 5 ≥0.8 cup equiv. per 1,000 kcal No Fruit
Whole Fruit3 5 ≥0.4 cup equiv. per 1,000 kcal No Whole Fruit
Total Vegetables4 5 ≥1.1 cup equiv. per 1,000 kcal No Vegetables
Greens and Beans4 5 ≥0.2 cup equiv. per 1,000 kcal No Dark Green Vegetables or Beans and Peas
Whole Grains 10 ≥1.5 oz equiv. per 1,000 kcal No Whole Grains
Dairy5 10 ≥1.3 cup equiv. per 1,000 kcal No Dairy
Total Protein Foods6 5 ≥2.5 oz equiv. per 1,000 kcal No Protein Foods
Seafood and Plant Proteins6,7 5 ≥0.8 oz equiv. per 1,000 kcal No Seafood or Plant Proteins
Fatty Acids8 10 (PUFAs + MUFAs)/SFAs ≥2.5 (PUFAs + MUFAs)/SFAs ≤1.2
Refined Grains 10 ≤1.8 oz equiv. per 1,000 kcal ≥4.3 oz equiv. per 1,000 kcal
Sodium 10 ≤1.1 gram per 1,000 kcal ≥2.0 grams per 1,000 kcal
Empty Calories9 20 ≤19% of energy ≥50% of energy

1: Intakes between the minimum and maximum standards are scored proportionately.

2: Includes fruit juice.

3: Includes all forms except juice.

4: Includes any beans and peas not counted as Total Protein Foods.

5: Includes all milk products, such as fluid milk, yogurt, and cheese, and fortified soy beverages.

6: Beans and peas are included here (and not with vegetables) when the Total Protein Foods standard is otherwise not met.

7: Includes seafood, nuts, seeds, soy products (other than beverages) as well as beans and peas counted as Total Protein Foods.

8: Ratio of poly- and monounsaturated fatty acids to saturated fatty acids.

9: Calories from solid fats, alcohol, and added sugars; threshold for counting alcohol is >13 grams/1000 kcal.

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