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The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Guide Pyramid of daily dietary recommendations divides food into six groups. Recommendations are for those age three and older.|
At the top of the pyramid are foods you should eat only sparingly. As the pyramid gets wider toward the bottom, the suggested number of servings increases. As you go up, it DOES NOT mean the foods are more important or somehow better. Being higher on the pyramid simply means you should eat less of that type of food each day.
Different foods within the lower five food groups have varying combinations of nutrients, so be sure to choose food combinations that utilize more than one group.
Bread, Cereal, Rice & Pasta
Recommended Daily Servings: 6 - 11
Serving Size: 1 slice of bread, 1/2 cup cooked rice or pasta, 1 oz of cold cereal, 1/2 bagel, 1 average pancake.
This group is at the base of the pyramid because most of our daily recommended allowance for foods should come from this group. *Children should eat at least half their daily calories from this group.
These foods are a good sources of complex carbohydrates. They provide energy for your body by circulating glucose through the blood. The glucose can be stored in the liver and muscles for later use, especially during exercise.
Breads, cereals, rice, and pasta also help the body use protein and, provides other important nutrients such as Vitamin B- complex (folate) which helps form DNA/RNA and red blood cells. The whole grains from this group helps the digestive tract to eliminate wastes.
Recommended Daily Servings: 3 - 5
Serving Size: 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables, such as lettuce, 1/2 cup raw or cooked chopped vegetables, such as carrots or corn.
Vegetables give the body vitamins and minerals to build strong bodies and help release energy from proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. A variety of vegetables are necessary since each contains different vitamins and minerals.
Fat-soluble vitamins ( such as vitamins A,D,E, & K) are stored in the body. Your body can get too much of these when great amounts are consumed. Water-soluble vitamins (such as vitamin C and B) are not stored in the body.
Nutrients in vegetables are preserved when they are eaten raw or steamed. They should not be overcooked.
Vitamin A helps build body cells and helps eyesight. Good sources are: carrots, sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin K helps in clotting blood. Vegetables are good sources of this vitamin, however, the body also produces itís own supply in the intestine.
Recommended Daily Servings: 2 - 4
Serving Size: 1 medium fruit, such as an apple, 1/2 cup canned fruit, such as peaches, 1/2 cup fruit juice, such as orange juice.
Fruit provides necessary vitamins and minerals and fiber for the body. It is important to wash fruits well before eating. The peeling adds fiber to the diet. Raw fruit is best.
Vitamin C helps build cells, heal wounds and fight infections. Citrus fruits are good sources of this vitamin.
Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese
Recommended Daily Servings: 2 - 3
Serving Size: 1 cup milk, 8 oz yogurt, 1 1/2 oz. cheddar cheese
Milk, yogurt and cheese give the body calcium for strong bones and teeth; protein to repair and maintain body tissues, produce hemoglobin to carry oxygen to the cells and produce antibodies to fight infection, enzymes and hormones; and vitamins A and D.
Vitamin D builds bone tissues and helps to absorb calcium from the digestive system. Besides dairy products vitamin D can be found in fish and sunshine.
Meats, Poultry, Fish, Beans, Eggs, & Nuts
Recommended Daily Servings: 2 - 3
Serving Size: 1 egg, 3 1/2 oz fish sticks, 2-3 oz. lean meat, poultry or fish, 1 Tbs. peanut butter, 1/2 cup cooked beans.
This food group gives the body protein. The body needs protein to maintain and build body tissues, to make hemoglobin in the blood so it can carry oxygen, and to make antibodies to help fight infection.
Foods in this group also provide vitamin B-complex for forming DNA/RNA and red blood cells; calcium and iron to build strong bones and teeth and help muscle and nerve activity.
Vitamin B includes many different parts. They help the nervous system, blood and healthy skin and eyes. They also help the body use energy from protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Good sources are: nuts, lean pork, fortified cereals, milk, yogurt, meats, and fish.
Fats, Oils, and Sweets
Recommended Daily Servings: 2 - sparingly
This group should be eaten in small quantities. Fat intake should be 30% or less of the daily food intake. Poly unsaturated fats (safflower and corn oil) and monounsaturated fats (olive oil, canola oil and cashews) are healthier choices than saturated fats (butter and beef fat).
Some fats are necessary in our diet. Children less than 2 year of age should not restrict their fat intake as their brain and other organs develop.
Fats help the body absorb fat -soluble Vitamins A, D, E, K. It also is a part of the cell walls, it protects and pads organs and keeps warmth in the body.
Sugar is a simple carbohydrate and is easily digested and quickly absorbed into the bloodstream so it provides quick energy. Even though there is little nutrition in sugar it often has fats with it and it doesnít provide vitamins and minerals.
Examples of High-Fat Foods:
Examples of Low-Fat Foods: