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Food Pyramid Guidelines For Healthy Eating

Official US Dietary Guidelines are based on the Food Guide Pyramid. This food pyramid illustrates the main food groups of a healthy balanced diet. According to the official US dietary guidelines, the basis of a healthy balanced diet means eating foods from each of the main food groups, each day - except fats, oils & sweets, which should always be eaten sparingly.

TABLE 1. Food Pyramid

The food pyramid

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Food Pyramid Guidelines

Fats, Oils, Sweets
Use Sparingly

Milk, Yogurt & Cheese
2-3 Servings, per day

Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs, Nuts
2-3 Servings, per day

3-5 Servings, per day

2-4 Servings, per day

Bread, Cereal, Rice, Pasta
6-11 Servings, per day

TABLE 2. Food Pyramid Sample Diets at Three Different Calorie Levels

Food Group 1600
Calorie Diet
Calorie Diet
Calorie Diet
Grains 6 servings 9 servings 11 servings
Vegetables 3 servings 4 servings 5 servings
Fruits 2 servings 3 servings 4 servings
Dairy/Milk 2-3 servings 2-3 servings 2-3 servings
Meats 5oz 6oz 7oz
Total Fat (30%) 53g 73g 93g
Total Added Sugars 6 tsp 12 tsp 18 tsp

 TABLE 3. Food Pyramid Serving Sizes

Food Group What Counts as a Serving
Fats, oils, sweets Use sparingly. Use fats or oils low in saturated, or hydrogenated fat.
Dairy 1 cup milk; 8 ounces yogurt; 1.5 ounces natural cheese; 2 ounces processed cheese.
Meats, poultry, beans, eggs, nuts 2-3 servings equals 5-7 ounces of cooked lean meat, or poultry without skin, or fish. Here 1 egg (2 egg whites), 1 tbsp nuts, or 1/2 cup cooked peas, beans count as 1 ounce of meat.
Vegetables 1/2 cup cooked/raw vegetables; 1 cup leafy raw vegetables; 1/2 cup cooked peas, beans, other legumes; 3/4 cup vegetable juice.
Fruits 1 medium apple, banana, orange; 1/2 grapefruit; melon wedge; 3/4 cup fruit juice; 1/2 cup chopped fresh, cooked, canned fruit (in juice); 1/4 cup dried fruit;
Breads, grains 1 slice bread; 1/2 hamburger bun or English muffin; 1 small roll, muffin, or biscuit; 5-6 small crackers; 1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice, pasta, noodles; 1 ounce ready-to-eat cereal.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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