Healthy Eating Pyramid
Healthy Eating Pyramid
From the American Heart Association
Whole Grain Foods (at most meals): The best sources of carbohydrates are whole grains such as oatmeal, whole-wheat bread and brown rice. They deliver the outer (bran) and inner (germ) layers along with energy-rich starch. The body can't digest whole grains as quickly as it can highly processed carbohydrates such as white flour. This keeps blood sugar and insulin levels from rising, then falling, too quickly. Better control of blood sugar and insulin can keep hunger at bay and may prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.
Plant Oils: The average American gets one-third or more of his or her daily calories from fats. In this pyramid, this is specifically plant oils, not all types of fat. Good sources of healthy unsaturated fats include olive, canola, soy, corn, sunflower, peanut and other vegetable oils, as well as fatty fish such as salmon. These healthy fats not only improve cholesterol levels (when eaten in place of highly processed carbohydrates) but can also protect the heart from sudden and poten-tially deadly rhythm problems.
Vegetables (in abundance) and Fruits (two to three times a day): A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can decrease the chances of having a heart attack or stroke; protect against a variety of cancers; lower blood pressure; help you avoid diverticulitis and guard against cataract and macular degeneration.
Fish, Poultry and Eggs (zero to two times a day): These are important sources of protein. Research suggests that eating fish can reduce the risk of heart disease. Chicken and turkey are also good sources of protein and can be low in saturated fat. Eggs are also excellent sources of protein. You can eat egg whites liberally but keep egg yolks to four per week.
Nuts and Legumes (one to three times a day): Nuts and legumes are excellent sources of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. This includes black beans, navy beans, garbanzos and other beans that are purchased dried. Many kinds of nuts contain healthy fats (almonds, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, hazelnuts and pistachios) but keep in mind they are also high in calories and should be eaten in small amounts.
Dairy or Calcium Supplement (one to two times a day): Building bone and keeping it strong takes calcium, vitamin D, exercise and a whole lot more. Dairy products have traditionally been Americans' main source of calcium. But there are other healthy ways to get calcium than from milk and cheese. If you enjoy dairy foods, try to stick with no-fat or low-fat products. If you don't tolerate or like dairy products, calcium-enriched foods are available, such as, fortified orange juice and soy milk. Calcium supplements also offer another way to get your daily calcium.
Red Meat and Butter (use sparingly): These sit at the top of the Healthy Eating Pyramid because they contain a lot of saturated fat. If you eat red meat every day, switch to fish or chicken several times a week to improve cholesterol levels.
White Rice, White Bread, Potatoes, Pasta and Sweets (use sparingly): These processed foods are usually lower in fiber and can cause a rapid rise in blood sugar.
Multiple Vitamin: A daily multivitamin, multimineral supplement offers some nutritional insurance. While it can't replace healthy eating, or make up for poor eating habits, it can help the nutrient shortfalls that may occasionally affect even the most competent eaters.
Alcohol (in moderation): Moderation is clearly important, since alcohol has risks as well as benefits. For men, a good balance point is one to two drinks a day. For women, it's one drink a day.
Adapted from Eat, Drink and Be Healthy by Walter Willet, M.D.