The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) and United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regularly review and provide guidance on healthy dietary practices for Americans – the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines include information on alcohol consumption.
The most recent Dietary Guidelines were published in 2020 and can be found here.
Adults who choose to drink should do so in moderation and should discuss their consumption with their healthcare providers. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 includes the following recommendation for moderate consumption:
To help Americans move toward a healthy dietary pattern and minimize risks associated with drinking, adults of legal drinking age can choose not to drink or to drink in moderation by limiting intakes to 2 drinks or less in a day for men and 1 drink or less in a day for women, on days when alcohol is consumed.1
The Guidelines also caution that some people should not drink at all.
There are also some people who should not drink at all, such as if they are pregnant or might be pregnant; under the legal age for drinking; if they have certain medical conditions or are taking certain medications that can interact with alcohol; and if they are recovering from an alcohol use disorder or if they are unable to control the amount they drink. If adults age 21 years and older choose to drink alcoholic beverages, drinking less is better for health than drinking more.2
As discussed in the Guidelines, two key areas for making responsible alcohol choices are the number of calories and the amount of alcohol in each drink consumed. More information and resources for calculating standard alcohol servings and calories in alcohol beverages are included in the following pages.