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Many Americans are familiar with the food pyramid, and we're not expecting it to disappear anytime soon! Here's how it can serve as a guide to healthy eating and living!
What is the food pyramid?
The food pyramid is a chart which is created and synthesized by nutritionists to categorize essential foods for people to refer and ensure a healthy food consumption without overeating any particular type of food. Additionally, this chart is a good reminder for us to vary foods intake. Even “healthy” or “superb” foods could become harmful if it were eaten excessively.
The Healthy Food Pyramid is made of 4 groups of food which are:
1. Grains: Bread, pasta, cereals (40%)
Grain products provide complex carbohydrates which is a significant source of energy for human beings. In addition, these foods also contain vitamins, minerals and fiber – all kinds of healthy, essential nutrition. The daily intake of grain products should be highest compared to other types of foods, ideally ranging from 6 to 11 servings per day, equivalent to 40% of daily foods.
There is a myth that eating too much grains will fatten your body due to its richness in calories; however, in reality, what people add to the grains is what contain most of the fat. For instance, cream or cheese on pasta and noodles.
2. Vegetables and fruits (35%)
Vegetables and fruits are a primary source of vitamins including vitamin A and C, folate and minerals. These foods are essential for healthy skin, toned body and healthy immune system.
As for vegetables, dark-green, deep-yellow, starchy and legume vegetables are particularly good for health, especially legumes which can be used to replace meat in daily meals. You should eat at least 35% of vegetables and fruits per day according to Healthy Food Pyramid.
3. Meat, fish, milk, eggs (20%)
Meat and fish are commonly known to supply the body with protein, B vitamins, iron and zinc which are critical for developing muscles and increasing energy. On the other hands, eggs, nuts and milk can replace meat because they can provide similar protein and minerals.
More importantly, milk and cheese contain calcium that few foods can offer. Though important as they are, we should consume these foods in moderation because protein can easily turn into fat-like substances.
4. Fat, oil, sugar and sweets (5%)
At the Pyramid tip is the food group of fats, oils and sweets containing fat and added sugars. These foods provide calories and little to no vitamins and minerals. There's no doubt that this is the least healthy portion of the food pyramid.
Most of fats and added sugars are in popular foods such as soft drinks, candy, jams, jellies, syrups and table sugar that people usually add to foods like coffee or cereal. Eating too much added sugars raises blood cholesterol levels, leading to the risks of heart disease and other fatal illnesses.
Therefore, it is vital to considerably reduce the percentage of these foods in daily menu, ideally to 5% during the whole day.
To sum up, Healthy Food Pyramid has been recommended by numerous state agencies and senior nutritionists for people to lead a much healthier life by eating right. You can also use this pyramid as a guide to build your own menu for a variety of purposes like workout or losing weight.