Food Pyramid or Food Plate?

Photo Credit: Harvard Food Pyramid Public Domain 
A healthy diet includes a variety of foods. Fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, meats, and nuts are all part of a nutritious diet. How much should you eat from each food group? Should you use the old “pyramid” to guide your food choices or is the new “my plate” a better choice? Your dietary choices should be made based on nutrition. Other factors to consider are your goals and primary objective, such as weight loss, muscle mass, lowering cholesterol or maintaining bone strength. The key to any diet plan is getting all the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy. 
Your diet should include enough protein to maintain healthy muscles and bones. Meat is one option for protein. Plant-based proteins can be found in beans, rice, nuts, eggs and dairy. Meat and animal proteins usually contain more fat and cholesterol than plant proteins. If you are trying to lower your cholesterol, consider substituting meat protein for soy products or other vegetable protein sources. Whether you follow the food pyramid or food plate, you should make food choices based on nutritional value and your personal needs. A doctor or dietitian can help you create a diet that works for you.

The food plate diagram recommends one half of each meal consist of fruits and vegetables. Healthy oils like olive oil and canola oil are included in the vegetable section, but not fatty oils like butter and oils that contain trans fats. French fries do not count as a vegetable. Choose a variety of vegetables of all colors and flavors to keep meals interesting as well as nutritious.

Photo Credit: USDA Public Domain

The other side of the food plate consists of healthy proteins and whole grain foods. Healthy proteins include fish, poultry, beans, peas, nuts and small portions of lean red meat. Avoid sandwich meats, bacon, sausage, hot dogs and other processed meat products. Whole grains include whole wheat bread, unprocessed oats, whole grain pasta, grits, bulgur wheat, cornmeal muffins and brown rice. Avoid pasta and bread made with bleached white flour and white rice. Dairy should be limited to one serving per meal. Drink an 8 ounce glass of whole Vitamin D enriched milk or water and a serving of fresh yogurt or cheese. Those who are lactose intolerant can substitute vitamin enriched soy milk for dairy products. 

Whether you choose to follow the food pyramid, food plate or your own diet plan, choose healthy foods and eat a variety of foods every day. Avoid too much caffeine found in coffee, tea and most sodas. Limit your sugar intake and get plenty of exercise. 

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