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Learn About the Food Pyramid

?The food pyramid is a general guide that recommends eating the right foods to get the nutrients the body needs to maintain good health and normal overall weight.

Many Americans know that the Food Pyramid is basically a pyramid shaped chart of foods divided into sections to show the recommended amounts of each food group to be eaten daily in order to maintain a healthy diet. What most people don’t know is that the first food pyramid was created in Sweden in 1974 when Sweden's National Board of Health and Welfare developed the idea of "basic foods" that were cheap and nutritious, and "supplemental foods" that added any nutrition that was missing from the basic foods.

The United States got into the game a bit later in 1992 when a new food pyramid was introduced by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that divided healthy foods into six horizontal sections and showed pictures of the foods from each section's basic food group. The USDA chart was later updated in 2005 when the graphic image was changed with vertical wedges that replaced the horizontal sections and the chart was renamed as “MyPyramid.” The latest incarnation of the food pyramid came into being in 2011 when the USDA renamed the chart as the “MyPlate” program and it was divided into four different sections that displayed fruits and vegetables as half of the chart and grains and protein representing the other half.

Today, the food pyramid is considered as a general guide to help people choose a healthy diet based on the USDA’s dietary guidelines that recommend eating a variety of foods to get the nutrients the body needs and the right amount of calories to maintain a healthy overall weight. The Dietary Guidelines say to start with plenty of breads, cereals, rice, pasta, vegetables, and fruits, and then add 2 or 3 servings from the milk group and 2 or 3 servings from the meat group. The foods in the smaller tip of the pyramid represent the fats, oils, and sweets that are obviously to be eaten in small quantities.

When presented as a simple line chart, the current food pyramid looks like this:

Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese Group –
1 cup of milk or yogurt - 1 1/2 ounces of natural cheese - 2 ounces of process cheese

Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs, and Nuts Group –
2-3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish - 1/2 cup of cooked dry beans, 1 egg, or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter count as 1 ounce of lean meat

Vegetable Group –
1 cup of raw leafy vegetables - 1/2 cup of other vegetables, cooked or chopped raw - 3/4 cup of vegetable juice

Fruit Group –
1 medium apple, banana, orange - 1/2 cup of chopped, cooked, or canned fruit - 3/4 cup of fruit juice

Bread, Cereal, Rice, and Pasta Group –
1 slice of bread - 1 ounce of ready-to-eat cereal - 1/2 cup of cooked cereal, rice, or pasta

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