Law · Programmatic documents

Dietary Guidelines for the Brazilian Population


This document establishes principles and recommendations for an adequate and healthy diet for Brazilian population, and introduces the concept of ultra-processed foods.


The Dietary Guidelines for the Brazilian Population (in Portuguese, “Guia Alimentar para a População Brasileira”) were first issued by the Ministry of Health in 2006. In 2014, the Ministry published this second updated version.

The Guidelines provides principles and recommendations for a healthy and adequate diet. They encourage the development of intersectoral strategies for the promotion and protection of healthy enviroments, trough actions focused on public healthy policies and the reorientation of helth services from the perspective of health promotion.

The Guidelines are based on five principles (pages 15-23):

  1. Food is more than nutrient intake;
  2. Food recommendations should be in tune with your time;
  3. Adequate and healthy food derives from a socially and environmentally sustainable food system;
  4. Different types of knowledge generate knowledge for formulating dietary guidelines;
  5. Food guidelines increase autonomy in food choices.

The degree of processing of food is the main criteria used to provide diet recommendations. This marks a significant difference from other national guidelines and diet-related policies that make recommendations mostly based on nutrient composition (generally, in relation to saturated sats, sodium, and sugar). The categories used greatly reflect those first proposed by the so-called NOVA classification system:

  • Natural or minimally processed foods, which should be the main or primary source of nutrition;
  • Oils, fats, salt, and sugar: to be used in small quantitites for seasoning and cooking;
  • Processed foods: to be eaten in small quantities as ingredients in culinary preparations or as part of meals based on natural or minimally processed foods;
  • Ultra-processed foods: to be avoided.

Globally, these Guidelines were the first document to discourage the consumption of “ultra-processed foods” (in Portuguese, “alimentos ultraprocessados”), defined as “industrial formulations made entirely or mainly from substances extracted from food (oils, fats, sugar, starch, proteins), derived from food constituents (hydrogenated fats, modified starch) or synthesized in the laboratory based on organic materials such as petroleum and coal (dyes , flavorings, flavor enhancers and various types of additives used to provide products with attractive sensory properties).” (page 41).