The 'Healthy Eating Pyramid'
latest food pyramid,the Healthy Eating Pyramid, won't be the last,
but for now, it may be the best. The pyramid shape to show what
foods you should eat began when the Department of Agriculture created
the Food Guide Pyramid in 1992.
Since then several pyramids have been added to the gallery to reflect
the eating habits of different ages, ethnicities, and points of
view about what makes a diet healthy (the Mediterranean diet).
latest addition, called the Healthy Eating Pyramid, reflects the
most current nutrition research available, according to its creators
at Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School. The
major difference between the new pyramid and the USDA's original
one centers on the balance of carbohydrates and fats.
a decade, doctors and food experts told people to eat more carbohydrates
and avoid fats. But people in the United States and around the world
have become obese at an alarming rate, leading researchers to question
their nutritional advice. The Healthy Eating Pyramid breaks carbs
and fats into good and bad, rather than lumping them together.
The new pyramid suggests other major changes as well, including:
Sharply restricting red meat, potatoes and refined grains, such
as white bread
Limiting dairy products to one or two servings a day
Replacing unhealthy saturated fat with healthier unsaturated vegetable
€ Consuming large amounts of whole grains, fruits and vegetables
Taking a daily multivitamin
Drinking limited amounts of alcohol From The Mediterranean In many
ways, the Healthy Eating Pyramid resembles an older pyramid developed
by Oldways Preservation & Exchange Trust and the Harvard School
of Public Health.
Mediterranean Diet Pyramid was developed after researchers noticed
that people who live in the Mediterranean area (Italy, Greece, Spain)
had lower rates of obesity, heart disease and cancer than do most
Americans. (Researchers caution that diet is only part of the story,
that Mediterranean people eat less than the typical American and
get more daily activity.) The typical Mediterranean diet, compared
to an American one, is lower in saturated fat (animal fats from
meat, whole milk and cheese); higher in monounsaturated fat (from
olive oil); and places greater emphasis on vegetables, fruits and
of the Mediterranean pyramid:
Specific portions are not given. Instead, foods are to be eaten
"daily," "a few times per week," or "a few times per month."
The foundation layer includes potatoes, polenta, couscous, bulgur
and other grains. (The USDA lists only "bread, cereal, rice and
Beans, legumes and nuts have a greater prominence, reflecting their
status as a basic dietary staple.
Olive oil is emphasized by having its own layer in the middle of
Fish, poultry, eggs and sweets are to be eaten just a few times
Red meat, at the top of the pyramid, is to be eaten just a few times
€ Wine is recommended, in moderation.
the Healthy Eating Pyramid and the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid provide
most Americans with a framework for choosing the proper balance
of nutritious foods. If you're a vegetarian, you'll need to adapt
your pyramid to be certain that you get enough protein, calcium,
vitamins and minerals.
Young And Old
children ages 2 to 6 have their own pyramid, similar to the USDA
pyramid, but with pictures of foods that kids commonly eat. Serving
sizes have also been altered to reflect the true eating habits of
kids. Illustrations surrounding the pyramid show kids engaged in
a variety of activities, stressing the importance of exercise --
or in this case, play -- in the lives of healthy children.
older than age 70 also have their own pyramid. Scientists at Tufts
University's USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging published
a modified pyramid that addresses the special needs of older Americans.
Differences from the original pyramid:
The base of the 70+ pyramid recommends eight glasses of water per
day. Although everyone should drink at least eight glasses of water
daily, this needs to be emphasized for older adults because their
bodies are less effective at alerting them to the need for water.
Also, drinking plenty of water can help ease constipation, a common
complaint of aging adults. If you take water pills (diuretics) check
with your doctor if you regularly drink more than eight glasses
of water per day. You may need to have your blood tested to make
sure the serum sodium concentration does not get too low.
The flag at the tip of the 70+ pyramid recommends supplements of
calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12, vitamins many older adults find
difficult to get in adequate amounts from food alone.
The senior pyramid is also thinner than the standard one, suggesting
that older people need to eat "slimmer," to cut down on calories
by eating more nutrient-dense foods instead of higher-calorie items.
Other Pyramids The Latin American Diet Pyramid places a heavy emphasis
on fruits, vegetables, beans and grains. Red meat, sweets and eggs
are to be eaten only occasionally. The Asian Diet Pyramid de-emphasizes
dairy products and focuses on rice, grains, fruits, vegetables,
legumes, nuts and seeds.