Food Guide Pyramid

The Food Pyramid can be a good guide for a healthier nutrition. It was developed by the US Department of Agriculture and gives simple and easy orientation to help you choose your menu.

What is the Food Pyramid?

Flexible and full of options, the Pyramid gives simple and easy orientation that will help you choose what and how much to eat from each food group. It takes in consideration seven guidelines:

The Seven Guidelines:

Eat a variety of foods to get the energy, protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber you need for good health.

Balance the food you eat with physical activity - maintain or improve your weight to reduce you chances of having high blood pressure, heart disease, a stroke, certain cancers, and the most common kind of diabetes.

Choose a diet with plenty of grain products, vegetables, and fruits which provide needed vitamins, minerals, fiber, and complex carbohydrates, and can help you lower your intake of fat.

Choose a diet low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol to reduce your risk of heart attack and certain types of cancer and to help you maintain a healthy weight.

Choose a diet moderate in sugars. A diet with lots of sugars has too many calories and too few nutrients for most people and can contribute to tooth decay.

Choose a diet moderate in salt and sodium to help reduce your risk of high blood pressure.

If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation. Alcoholic beverages supply calories, but little or no nutrients. drinking alcohol is also the cause of many health problems and accidents and can lead to addiction.


What is in the Pyramid?

The Pyramid contains all foods you can imagine! The guide encourages a healthy diet with: variety, balance and moderation  

Variety. There isn't one single food that provides all nutrients we need. A healthy diet includes foods from all five major food groups in the Food Guide Pyramid.

Balance. A balanced diet incorporates the appropriate daily servings of the five groups in the Pyramid. Your gender, age and athletic level may change the food servings for a balanced diet.

Moderation. Be careful with your menu choices in order to control the levels of: calories, fats, cholesterol, saturated fat, salt, sugars and, if consumed, alcohol drinks. 

How do we use the Food Guide Pyramid?

As you can see by the graphic bellow, the Pyramid arranges the foods in five major food groups. At the base of the Pyramid you will find the foods you should consume frequently (breads, cereals, rice and pasta), while, at the top of it, you will find the foods you should consume with moderation (fats, oils and sugars).

The Food Guide Pyramid
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or U. S. Department of Agriculture and DHHS

The recommended servings (approximated) of the each food groups depend on your calorie needs. The calorie level suggestions are based on recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences and on calorie intakes reported by people in national food consumption surveys.

For adults and teens:
1,600 calories
is about right for many sedentary women and some older adults.
2,200 calories is about right for most children, teenage girls, active women, and many sedentary men. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may need somewhat more.
2,800 calories is about right for teenage boys, many active men, and some very active women.

Sample diets for a day at 3 calorie levels

Major food groups | Calorie level about
Grain Group Servings 6 9 11
Vegetable Group Servings 3 4 5
Fruit Group Servings 2 3 4
Milk Group Servings 2-3 2-3 2-3
Meat Group (ounces) 5 6 7
Total Fat (grams) 53 73 93
Total Added Sugars (teaspoons) 6 12 18

A healthy diet doesn't mean you must get ride of your favorite foods and drinks. Just learn how to balance your diet. You can enjoy your favorite foods and, at the same time, promote your health. There isn't a "good" or a "bad" food. Every kind of food can fit in a health diet with balance, variety and moderation. The Food Pyramid Guide is not a rigid prescription, but a general guide that lets you choose a healthful diet.


This article has informational purpose and  isn't a substitute for professional advice.

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