Food Guide Pyramid
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Easy Way to a Balanced Diet
The Food Guide Pyramid is a guide developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help you plan a healthy diet. The Pyramid is based on research of what foods we eat and how we can make the best food choices. The Food Guide Pyramid emphasizes foods from the five major food groups shown in the three lower sections of the Pyramid. Each of these food groups provides some, but not all, of the nutrients you need. Foods in one group can't replace those in another. No one food group is more important than another -- for good health, you need them all. The Pyramid shows how much of each food group you should eat and the contents of the food group. Following the food pyramid will ensure that you get all the nutrients you need in sufficient amounts.
The small tip of the Pyramid shows fats, oils, and sweets. These are foods such as salad dressings and oils, cream, butter, margarine, sugars, soft drinks, candies, and sweet desserts. These foods provide taste and little else, nutritionally. Most people use them sparingly.
The third level of the Food Guide Pyramid contains two groups of food that come mostly from animals: milk, yogurt, and cheese; and meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts. These foods are important for protein, calcium, iron, and zinc.
The second level includes foods that come from plants -- vegetables and fruits. Most people need to eat more of these foods for the vitamins, minerals, and fiber they supply.
At the base of the Food Guide Pyramid are breads, cereals, rice, and pasta -- all foods from grains. You need the most servings of these foods every day.
We should eat more of the food located at
the base of the pyramid and, as we move up the pyramid, the
quantity of the food we should consume should be less. The fats,
oils and sweets are at the tip of the pyramid and should best be
avoided. But we still need a small amount of fats for our bodies to function. We should eat a
variety of foods to get all the nutrients needed by our bodies.
What Counts as a Serving?
|Food Group||Serving Sizes|
|Bread, Cereal, Rice, & Pasta||1
slice bread, 1/2 hamburger bun, bagel, or English muffin.
1 ounce ready-to eat cereal
1/2 cup cooked rice, pasta, noodles
cup raw leafy vegetables
1/2 cup cooked vegetables
1/2 cup chopped, raw vegetables
3/4 cup vegetable juice
medium fruit (apple, banana, orange)
1/2 cup berries or cut-up fruit
1/2 cup cooked or canned fruit
3/4 cup fruit juice
|Milk, Yogurt, Cheese||1
1 cup yogurt
1-1/2 ounces natural cheese
2 ounces process cheese
|Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs, Nuts||2-3
ounces cooked lean meat, fish or skinless poultry
|Count as equal to 1 OUNCE MEAT||1
egg or 1/4 cup fat-free, cholesterol free egg alternative
1/3 cup nuts
1/2 cup cooked dry beans
2 tablespoons peanut butter
This page has been authored for participation in
the 1997 Thinkquest Competition.