In 2005 the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a food pyramid called MyPyramid, which was designed to educate people about the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines were developed jointly by the USDA and the Department of Health and Human services (HHS). The dietary guidelines are revised every five years by both departments. (Currently, there are new guidelines in place, and the government have decided to drop the pyramid shaped illustration to replace it with a plate model called MyPlate.)
The design of MyPyramid consists of vertical colored stripes. Each color has a different size, suggesting the amount of food that you should choose from each group. The figure on the stairs is there to remind you of the importance of physical activity.
So what type of food does each color stand for? Let’s find out what the color stripes represent in MyPyramid, and what the best choices are for each food group within the food pyramid.
1 ounce= 1 slice of bread, or 1 cup of breakfast cereal
1 ounce= 1/2 cup of cooked rice, or cereal, or pasta.
There are two types of grains: whole grains and refined grains. Refined grains have been milled to gain finer texture and improve their shelf life. The problem with this process is that all fiber, iron and most of the vitamin B, have been removed. After this process the iron and vitamin B are often added back (enriched). The fiber is not added back though, and fiber is very important for the health of the digestive system and for lowering cholesterol.
1 cup=1 cup of raw/cooked vegetables, or vegetable juice.
1 cup=2 cups of raw leafy greens.
Your body has the capability to store some vitamins, but this is not the case with vitamin B and C. Vitamin B and C can not be stored in your body. Therefore, it is very important to get these vitamins everyday from food. The best source for vitamin B and C is vegetables. This is why you need to eat vegetables everyday.
1 cup= 1 cup of fruit, or 100% fruit juice, or 1/2 cup of dried fruit
Fruit contains many important vitamins and minerals that most people don’t generally get in their regular diet. Fruit is a good source of fiber and contains very little fat. Eat at least two-three fruits a day, and don’t forget the vegetables. Fewer than 15 percent of the two million American elementary school-aged children, eat the recommended five or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables.
Fruit juice contains many vitamins and nutrients that are good for you, but it’s healthier if you eat fresh fruit instead of drinking juice, since you get more of the fibers and less of the sugar. When you drink ½ cup of apple juice, it’s the same as eating an entire apple but the difference is that the apple has all the fiber that fills you up. This means that we drink more and intake more sugar than is healthy. The sugar intake of one glass of juice can equal that of a soft drink and sometimes the calories can be even higher. One glass of juice every morning is OK, just don’t over do it.
Oils from plant sources (vegetable and nut oils) are better for your health since they do not contain any cholesterol. You should limit solid fats like butter and margarine. Solid fats come from animals and are solid at room temperature. Solid fats are considered a contributor to cardiovascular disease, a leading cause of death in the U.S.
Calcium is important for developing bones, especially when you grow. Milk, yogurt and cheese are all rich in calcium. Be aware though that cream cheese, cream and butter are not rich in calcium. You should also be aware of the extra calories that contains in the sweetened milk products that you choose. If you can’t drink milk, try lactose free products or other calcium sources.
Instead of just eating red meat, vary your choices with more fish, beans, peas, nuts and seeds. They all contain good, healthier unsaturated fats. Salmon, trout and herring are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your health. Flax and walnuts are excellent sources of essential fatty acids. Sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts are good sources of vitamin E. 2 servings or fish per week (8 ounces total) may reduce the risk of mortality from coronary heart disease, according to studies.
The figure on the stairs is there to remind you of the importance of physical activity.