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Developing the Healthy Eating Index–2005

The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans differed from earlier editions by increasing the emphasis on several important aspects of diet quality, including whole grains, various types of vegetables, and specific types of fat. The 2005 Guidelines also introduced the concept of “discretionary calories.” As a result, the 1995 HEI needed to be revised and updated.

Staff at NCI's ARP and USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) collaborated to revise the HEI, and a new version, the HEI–2005, was published in November 2007. This revision also provided an opportunity for USDA and NCI to evaluate the psychometric properties of the new index.

The HEI–2005 is based on MyPyramid, USDA’s revised food guidance system, which translates recommendations in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines into specific, quantified dietary recommendations. All of the food groups contained in MyPyramid are represented in HEI–2005 components.

The HEI–2005 uses a scoring system, as did the original HEI. However, because MyPyramid recommendations for amounts of food groups, oils, and discretionary calories are couched in terms of absolute amounts that vary according to energy level, the USDA and NCI team developed the HEI–2005 scores using standards that are expressed as either a percent of calories or per 1,000 calories. The HEI–2005 components and scoring standards are shown in the table below.

Healthy Eating Index-2005 components and standards for scoring1
Component Maximum points Standard for maximum score Standard for minimum score of zero
Total Fruit (includes 100% juice) 5 ≥0.8 cup equiv. per 1,000 kcal No Fruit
Whole Fruit (not juice) 5 ≥0.4 cup equiv. per 1,000 kcal No Whole Fruit
Total Vegetables 5 ≥1.1 cup equiv. per 1,000 kcal No Vegetables
Dark Green and Orange Vegetables and Legumes2 5 ≥0.4 cup equiv. per 1,000 kcal No Dark Green or Orange Vegetables or Legumes
Total Grains 5 ≥3.0 oz equiv. per 1,000 kcal No Grains
Whole Grains 5 ≥1.5 oz equiv. per 1,000 kcal No Whole Grains
Milk3 10 ≥1.3 cup equiv. per 1,000 kcal No Milk
Meat and Beans 10 ≥2.5 oz equiv. per 1,000 kcal No Meat or Beans
Oils4 10 ≥12 grams per 1,000 kcal No Oil
Saturated Fat 10 ≤7% of energy5 ≥15% of energy
Sodium 10 ≤0.7 gram per 1,000 kcal5 ≥2.0 grams per 1,000 kcal
Calories from Solid Fat, Alcohol, and Added Sugar (SoFAAS) 20 ≤20% of energy ≥50% of energy
1 Intakes between the minimum and maximum levels are scored proportionately, except for Saturated Fat and Sodium (see note 5).
2 Legumes counted as vegetables only after Meat and Beans standard is met.
3 Includes all milk products, such as fluid milk, yogurt, and cheese.
4 Includes nonhydrogenated vegetable oils and oils in fish, nuts, and seeds.
5 Saturated Fat and Sodium get a score of 8 for the intake levels that reflect the 2005 Dietary Guidelines, <10% of calories from saturated fat and 1.1 grams of sodium/1,000 kcal, respectively.

Source: Taken from USDA. Healthy Eating Index–2005. (PDF)

Additional details are available in the Development and Evaluation of the Healthy Eating Index–2005 Technical Report (PDF).

Last Modified: 11 Apr 2014