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

It is a graph designed to indicate what foods are necessary for our diet.

The foundation layers include the three groups of herbal foods:

  • Vegetables and legumes.
  • Fruits.
  • Grain.

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

Plant foods contain various nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are also the primary source of carbohydrates and fiber in our diet.

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

The food group with grains chooses mainly whole grains (such as brown rice, oats, and quinoa) and whole-grain fiber, bread, pasta, crispy bread, 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 milk with 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 primary protein sources.

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

The top layer refers to healthy fats because we need small amounts daily 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 number 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 more oil and spreads every day.

Enjoy herbs and spices.

The herbs and spices provide an incredible 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 primary 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 using 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 salt intake and added sugar.

This means avoiding adding salt or sugar to foods we cook or eat and avoiding packaged foods and drinks with salt or added sugar in the ingredients.

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

Cooking meals at home and choosing whole foods or minimally processed foods will also help limit the salt and sugar consumed.

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, increasing the risk of cardiovascular (heart) and kidney diseases.

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

Added sugar

Consuming 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, considering 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 or bad for children.

They may also be unaware of the nutritional information of fruit, vegetable, dairy product, or meat in particular.

The comprehensive food guide educates parents, teachers, and other caregivers about the 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


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, cornbread, popcorn, and cooked cereal, among others.

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

Whole wheat flour contains fiber and vitamins B-1, B-3, B-5, riboflavin, and folate. Replacing white flour foods with whole foods 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 fine foods with whole foods.

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


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 your child needs to grow.

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

Potassium provides greater muscle strength and better metabolism; fiber controls your cholesterol.

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, so 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, and include seasonal fruits.

Present a variety of fruits, including melons, citrus fruits, and berries, to your child early in 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 drinks, but avoid adding sugar, cream, or other flavoring agents that could negatively affect your child’s health.


Like fruits, vegetables are rich in essential nutrients. Depending on your child’s liking, they can be eaten raw, cooked, or semi-cooked. 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 groups, depending on their nutrient content.


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:

Some to mention are broccoli, cabbage, dark green leafy lettuce, kale, mesclun, mustard green, romaine, spinach, turnips, and watercress. 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. You can have different types of beans in your meals: beans, soybeans, Lima beans, black peas, chickpeas or garbanzo beans, and pinto beans.

Beans come in different shapes, sizes, and colors and areas rich in nutrients such 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 have at least two or three varieties of vegetables in your child’s daily food.

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 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, peas, and processed soy products are rich protein sources.

A protein diet usually consists 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, increasing the risk of heart disease.

Avoid red meat such as beef, pork, and lamb, which have high 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, peas, nuts, and soy products such as tofu and soy sauce are the primary protein sources.

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).
  • Brown rice.