The food pyramid is a nutrition guide that is shaped like a pyramid. It is separated in parts, with each segment depicting the suggested intake of a particular food group. It was in Sweden that the first food pyramid was published in 1974. However, the most famous food pyramid was introduced in 1992 by the United States Department of Agriculture. It was later updated and renamed MyPyramid in 2005. This was subsequently replaced in June 2011. Food pyramids have been published by more than 25 countries and organizations. Food Groups in the Food Pyramid
- Vegetables – Different vegetables are a source of different minerals and vitamins. Therefore it is essential to eat a range of vegetables. For example, Green leafy vegetables contain vitamin A, while broccoli contains calcium and iron. Most vegetables do not have fats or calories. It is recommended to take two to three servings of vegetables per day, which could be fresh or frozen.
- Carbohydrates – Carbohydrates provide energy to the body. However, a high carbohydrate diet can have an adverse impact on the proper functioning of the body. It can affect blood sugar levels and lead to weight gain.
- Oils – As per the food pyramid, fats should be consumed cautiously. A person should consume those foods that have healthy fats, like nuts, fish and some fruits and vegetables. Eating large quantities of fatty foods can cause severe health problems.
- Fruits – Fruits are a major source of natural vitamins for the body. They are low in fat. Certain foods are considered as fruits in terms of botany, but are not treated as fruit in cuisines, as they do not have a sweet taste that is characteristic of most fruits. Examples of these are tomato and avocado. It is advisable to have two to four servings of fresh or frozen fruits per day.
- Meat and beans – Meat contains protein, zinc, iron, and vitamin B12. A number of nutrients that are present in meats are also present in foods like eggs and nuts. Therefore, such foods are included in the same group as meat alternatives. Meat contains high fat and sodium. The food guide pyramid advises two to three servings of meat in a day for adults.
- Dairy – Dairy products comprise milk, cheese and yogurt, which contain calcium, protein, vitamin A, phosphorus and vitamin D. Dairy products generally contain high saturated fats. The food pyramid suggests that adults should have three cups of dairy products in a day.