The Food Pyramid
The Food Pyramid
The food pyramid is designed to inform people how to eat healthily. A colored detailed food chart has been developed to represent five groups of foods and fats. The colors stand for –
Green – vegetables, orange – grains, red – fruits, yellow – fats and oils, purple – meat, fish, beans, and nuts, and lastly – blue for milk and dairy products.
The pyramid tells us about eating a variety of food items, some foods are to be taken as much as you can, and some foods are with caution.
A balanced diet includes foods from all the groups; it means we have to take food from each of the color categories each day. The purple and yellow colored food groups are to be taken to check the total calorie intake whereas the green and orange colored groups give us good nutrition.
The amount to be taken to remain healthy is variable. But surely we can estimate how much food is needed from each category.
Foods of this group are measured in ounce equivalents. Actually, this is a serving size measurement. The ounce equivalents of most common grains are –
1 slice of bread, ½ cup of pasta or rice, ½ cup of cooked cereal like oatmeal, and 1 cup of cold dry cereal. The adolescents (up to 12 years of age) need 5-ounce equivalents a day and the adults need 6-7 equivalents a day depending upon the total body weight. It is better to take whole grain foods like brown bread, and brown rice than bleached rice and oatmeal. Try to take at least half of your grain food from the whole grain source.
Fresh green leafy vegetables are beneficial to everybody. This contains essential vitamins and minerals. Different colored vegetables are rich in different vitamins as yellow-colored vegetables like carrots and pumpkins are rich sources of beta carotene and Vitamin A. Green-colored vegetables contain Vitamin E and Niacin in good quantity etc. Vegetable servings are measured in cups. Adolescents require 2 cups of food from this category and adults require 2 ½ cups of veggies daily.
Seasonal fruits can be taken daily. Fruits may be sweet or sour and it determines the vitamin content of that particular fruit. Adolescents require 1- 1 ½ cups of fruit each day and adults need 1 ½ – 2 cups of fruit each day.
Dairy and milk products
Foods of this group are rich in calcium. Calcium is responsible for building strong bones and teeth. So, one must include some amount of food from this category. Adolescents need 2 cups of milk daily and adults must take 3 cups of milk each day.
If somebody is having lactose intolerance disease, yogurt, whey, and fruit juices fortified with calcium and cheese are other options.
Meat, fish, beans, and nuts
Foods of this group are the source of protein and iron. Like cereal grains, these foods are also measured in ounce equivalents and that would equate –
1 ounce of meat, fish, or poultry products, 1 egg, ¼ cup of dry cooked beans, ½ ounce of seeds or nuts, and 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.
Fats and oils
The products contain saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. It is better to lower the number of calories taken daily from this group. Fats and oils from plant sources are always better than that obtained from animal sources as they contain more Poly and Mono unsaturated fatty acids which help to reduce cholesterol levels.