Food Pyramid: What is it? Importance, Advice and Recommended Foods

It is a graph designed to indicate in a simple way what are the foods that are necessary in our diet.

The foundation layers include the three groups of herbal foods:

  • Vegetables and legumes.
  • Fruits.
  • Grain.

These layers make up the largest portion of the pyramid because plant foods must make up the majority of our diet: about 70% of what we eat!

Plant foods contain a wide variety of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are also the main source of carbohydrates and fiber in our diet.

Older children, adolescents and adults should aim to have at least 2 servings of fruit and 5 servings of vegetables or legumes per day.

From the food group with grains, choose mainly whole grains (such as brown rice, oats and quinoa) and whole grain fiber, bread, pasta, crispy breads and cereal foods (on refined and highly processed varieties).

How much should I eat from each food group?

The intermediate layer includes milk, yogurt, cheese and alternatives, and food groups of lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes.

The foods in the group of milk, yogurt, cheese and alternatives mainly provide us with calcium and proteins, as well as other vitamins and minerals.

This food group also refers to non-dairy options such as soy, rice or cereal milks that have at least 100 mg per 100 ml of added calcium.

Choose reduced fat options from these foods to limit excess kilojoules of saturated fat.

Foods in the sections of lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes are our main sources of protein.

But each food also provides a unique combination of nutrients, which includes iodine, iron, zinc, B12 vitamins and healthy fats. We should try to have a variety of meat options and not meat from this food group.

The top layer refers to healthy fats because we need small amounts every day to support heart health and brain function.

We should choose foods that contain healthy fats instead of foods that contain saturated fats and trans fats.

Choose non-refined polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats from plant sources, such as extra virgin olive oil, nuts and seed oils. Limit the amount of saturated fats you eat and avoid trans fats.

We also get healthy fats from foods in the other food groups, such as avocados, nuts, seeds and fish, so we only need a little more oil and spreads every day.

Enjoy herbs and spices

The herbs and spices provide a wonderful variety of flavors and aromas to our food.

Many herbs and spices have health promoting properties, but as we tend to eat them in smaller quantities, their main purpose is to give flavor and color to our meals.

Cooking with herbs and fresh, dried or ground spices is an easy way to create foods that suit your tastes and increase your enjoyment of home-cooked meals without the need to use salt when cooking or eating.

Choose water

Water is the best drink to stay hydrated and is compatible with many other essential functions in the body. Choose water as the main drink and avoid sugary options, such as soft drinks, sports drinks and energy drinks.

Limit salt and sugar

The healthy eating pyramid reminds us to limit our intake of salt and added sugar.

This means avoiding adding salt or sugar to foods when we cook or eat, and avoid packaged foods and drinks that have salt or added sugar in the ingredients.

The average Australian already consumes too much salt and added sugar and this is related to an increased risk of diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

Cooking your own meals at home, and choosing whole foods or minimally processed foods will also help limit the amount of salt and sugar we consume.

Salt (sodium)

Sodium is found in salt and occurs naturally in some foods.

While we need small amounts of sodium for good health, too much salt is linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular (heart) and kidney diseases.

Avoid adding salt to food when cooking and eating, and read labels to choose foods that have less than 120 mg of sodium per 100 g.

Added sugar

The consumption of a large amount of added sugars, especially foods such as popsicles, chocolate, cakes, cookies, desserts and soft drinks, can add extra kilojoules to your diet.

This can lead to weight gain and increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and some cancers. Too much sugar can also cause tooth decay.

Most fruits, vegetables, legumes and dairy products without sugar contain small amounts of natural sugars that are not harmful.

Choose fresh or minimally processed varieties of these foods, and check the ingredients in all packaged foods and beverages to see if sugar has been added.

What is the importance of the food pyramid for children?

The USDA food guide is one of the most popular food guides you can trust. The food pyramid was developed after extensive research, taking into account individual dietary habits and lifestyles.

This food pyramid also helps children develop a healthy lifestyle, with the same emphasis on diet and activity.

An Exhaustive Guide for Caregivers

Caregivers may not always know which foods are good and which ones are bad for children.

They may also not be aware of the nutritional information of a fruit, vegetable, dairy product or meat in particular.

The food guide is comprehensive and educates parents, teachers and other caregivers about the types of foods that should be included in a child’s diet to ensure complete nutrition.

With the help of the MyPlate guide, you can develop a personalized diet plan that meets your child’s daily nutritional requirements.

Build healthy habits in children

The colorful MyPlate logo is self-explanatory with images of fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat that children should eat.

Parents can use the images and activities on the MyPlate site to encourage their children to eat healthy foods and avoid junk food. Teachers can also use the food pyramid to introduce the idea of ​​nutrition and healthy eating into the school.

Recommended Foods

Grain:

Foods made from grains such as rice, wheat, millet, corn, muesli, quinoa, rye, barley and oats fall into this category.

Examples of foods with grains include whole grain bread or pasta, brown rice, corn bread, popcorn and cooked cereal, among others.

More than half of the grain-based foods that you include in your child’s food should be whole foods. Replace white flour-based foods with whole foods to make sure your child gets maximum nutrition.

Whole wheat flour is rich in fiber and vitamins B-1, B-3, B-5, riboflavin and folate. By replacing white flour foods with whole foods, it also reduces the risk of disease.

If your children are used to eating foods with refined grains such as white rice, cornmeal and white bread, getting them to eat whole wheat foods can be difficult.

Do not change from refined grain to whole grain at night. Instead, introduce whole-grain products in small portions and gradually replace all refined foods with whole foods.

The amount of grain-based foods your child should eat every day depends on age and gender.

Fruits:

A quarter of your child’s daily food should consist of fruits such as apples, bananas and oranges.

Fruits are rich in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that your child needs to grow.

They are the best sources of vitamin C that protect against cardiovascular and ocular diseases; Folic acid that plays an important role in cancer prevention.

Potassium provides greater muscle strength and a better metabolism, and fiber keeps your cholesterol under control.

Research has shown that people who include fruit in their usual diet are less susceptible to heart disease, cancers of the mouth, lung, larynx, pancreas, cervix and esophagus, among others.

It is also known that fruits reduce the risk of stomach cancer and type 2 diabetes.

Fruits rich in potassium also reduce the risk of blood pressure and prevent the development of kidney stones.

More than anything, fruits have a low fat content and fewer calories, which means you can eat more fruit without worrying about gaining weight.

Fruits are also among the first solid foods recommended for babies.

Your child may or may not develop a taste for eating fruits. Here are some ways for your children to eat fruits from an early age.

Always have fruits at home. Have a bowl of fresh fruits on the table, be sure to include seasonal fruits in it.

Present a variety of fruits, including melons, citrus fruits and berries, to your child early in his childhood.

Make sure there is plenty of color in your fruit bowl. Includes orange and yellow fruits such as mangoes, oranges, grapefruits, pears, peaches, red fruits such as cherries, apples and pomegranates, green fruits such as green apples, papaya, watermelon, kiwis along with blue and purple fruits such as blueberries, plums and plums

If your child refuses to eat cut fruit, try the fruit juices. Stay with 100% fruit juices.

You can also choose fruit flavored shakes or other forms of drinks, but avoid adding sugar, cream or other flavoring agents that could negatively affect your child’s health.

Vegetables:

Like fruits, vegetables are rich in essential nutrients. They can be eaten raw, cooked or semi-cooked, depending on how your child likes them. You can buy fresh vegetables or frozen / dried vegetables.

Whatever your choice, make sure the vegetables are part of your child’s daily food intake.

Vegetables can be classified into five different groups, depending on their nutrient content.

Starch:

Vegetables such as yucca, corn, fresh cowpeas, field peas or black-eyed peas (not dried), green plantains, green peas, green beans, bananas, taro, water chestnuts and White potatoes are some examples. These vegetables are rich in fiber, minerals and vitamins.

Dark greens:

Broccoli, cabbage, dark green leafy lettuce, kale, mesclun, mustard green, romaine, spinach, turnips and watercress are some to mention. They are rich in vitamin A and act as cleansers that remove toxins from your body.

Red and orange: acorn squash, pumpkin, carrot, pumpkin, squash, sweet potato, red chili and tomato are part of the group of red and orange vegetables.

These vegetables are high in beta-carotene, magnesium, calcium and vitamin C. The nutrients in these vegetables can help fight free radicals in the body and reduce the risk of prostate cancer and joint pain.

Beans and peas: mature versions of lentils and legumes. The different types of beans you can have in your meals are beans, soybeans, Lima beans, black peas, chickpeas or garbanzo beans and pinto beans.

Beans come in different shapes, sizes and colors, and are as rich in nutrients as meat and poultry, and often replace them. They are free of cholesterol but are rich in potassium, vegetable protein, iron and zinc.

Other vegetables that you should include in your child’s diet are artichokes, parsnips, green beans, Brussels sprouts, onions, cabbage, asparagus, eggplant, green peppers, avocado, cauliflower, cucumbers, iceberg lettuce, bean sprouts, turnips, mushrooms , beets, wax beans, okra and zucchini.

You may not be able to include all these vegetables in a single day’s meal. But you can include at least two or three different varieties of vegetables in your child’s food every day.

That said, having your child eat his vegetables is one of the hardest things to do, but not eating vegetables is not an option! Why not abandon the old school customs and try something new?

Try making a dish that contains different vegetables (preferably different colors), so your child gets the nutrition he needs.

Knead vegetables or create vegetable pastes or purées that can be used in some dishes. Try making fresh purées, instead of using them processed or refrigerated.

Stir fried vegetables to make them crispy and tasty, but avoid frying or using fatty oils.

Let your children choose a vegetable that goes to the salad, or that should be eaten during dinner. Older children can also help you peel, cut and serve vegetables at the table.

Foods with proteins:

Protein is the source of energy for our body. It helps to form blocks of body tissue.

Meat, poultry, fish and nuts are the most common foods that supply proteins to the body. Beans and peas, along with processed soy products, are also rich sources of protein.

A protein diet usually consists of a variety of meat products such as chicken, beef, pork and lamb.

Care should be taken when choosing foods from this group, as some meats contain high amounts of saturated fats and cholesterol, which can increase the risk of heart disease .

Avoid red meat such as beef, pork and lamb, which have high amounts of saturated fats. Instead, opt for lean meats like chicken and fish.

The egg (whole) is a good source of protein, but you can choose to eat only the yolk or white (which is free of cholesterol) depending on your needs.

For vegetarians, beans and peas, nuts and soy products such as tofu and soy sauce are the main sources of protein.

Vegetarian protein-rich products include beans (all types), cottage cheese (tofu or tempeh for vegans), peanut butter (high-calorie), soy products (milk, yogurt and cheese) and brown rice.