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Healthy Eating Pyramid

The healthy eating pyramid is a nutrition guide developed by the Harvard School of Public Health, suggesting how much of each food category one should eat each day. The healthy eating pyramid is intended to provide a better eating guide than the widespread food guide pyramid created by the USDA.

The new pyramid aims to include the most current research in dietary health not present in the USDA's 1992 guide. The original USDA pyramid has been criticized for not differentiating between refined grains and whole grains, between saturated fats and unsaturated fats, and for not putting enough emphasis on exercise and weight control. It also had been developed by the Department of Agriculture, not the Department of Health and Human Services (or NIH), so has been alleged to be influenced by lobbyists working for the agriculture, meat and dairy industries.

In general terms, the healthy eating pyramid recommends the following intake of different food groups each day, although exact amounts of calorie intake depends on sex, age, and lifestyle:

* Daily exercise and weight control

* At most meals, whole grain foods including oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and brown rice;

* Plant oils, including olive oil, canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, and sunflower seed oil;

* Vegetables, in abundance

* 2-3 servings of fruits;

* 2-3 servings of nuts, or legumes;

* 1-2 servings of dairy or calcium supplement;

* 0-2 servings of poultry, fish, or eggs;

* Sparing use of white rice, white bread, potatoes, pasta and sweets;

* Sparing use of red meat and butter.

More Information

Food Pyramids Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source, Shows the difference of the Healthy Eating Pyramid from the USDA pyramid.

Rebuilding the Food Pyramid Scientific American, Jan 2003.

Is the Food Pyramid Obsolete? npr.org, Nov 21 2002.

The Way We Eat Now harvard-magazine.com, May-June 2004.

The USDA Food Guide Pyramid at the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion

Two healthy alternatives the Mediterranean and the Asian Diet Pyramids


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