What Does the New Food Pyramid Look Like?

What Does the New Food Pyramid Look Like?

The new food pyramid, called MyFoodPyramid, looks the same as the old food pyramid, but the details behind the colored stripes are different. The current food pyramid, with stripes representing grains (gold), vegetables (green), fruits (red), oils, (yellow), milk (blue) and meat and beans (purple) and a little figure running up the side of the pyramid to include an emphasis on physical activity for good health, was introduced in 2005. Its guidelines are updated every five years.

The food pyramid with stripes replaced the older 1992 food pyramid that had boxes inside a pyramid representing approximate number of servings recommended for each food category. The stripes don’t list number of servings, but their width roughly corresponds to the amount of that food group recommended. The new 2010 food pyramid keeps the colored stripes.

The primary differences in guidelines from 2005 are:

  • In 2005, the food pyramid was intended for healthy Americans 2 years and older. The 2010 pyramid is for healthy Americans and those at risk for chronic disease.
  • The 2010 food pyramid recommends that you eat food, not take supplements to meet your nutritional needs, save for special nutritional categories: 1) women of child-bearing age (folic acid) 2) pregnant women (iron) 3) 50 years or older (Vitamin B12).
  • The 2010 food pyramid recommends that you eat more vegetables and fruit
  • The 2010 food pyramid recommends you eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green, and red and orange vegetables, and beans and peas.
  • At least half of your grains should be whole grains (whole-grain bread, oatmeal), replacing refined grains (white bread, white rice).
  • Select from a variety of proteins, including seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, unsalted nuts and seeds
  • Reduce the amount of solid fats in your diet (butter, shortening)
  • Eat more and more kinds of seafood, replacing some meat and poultry
  • Increase dairy intake (low-fat milk, yoghurt, cheese, fortified soy beverages)
  • Drink nutrient-dense beverages instead of sugared beverages

These recommendations are in line with the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) and the Mediterranean diet.

Overall, the recommendations emphasize controlling your weight by maintaining a balance between calories consumed and those needed, and incorporating physical activity into your day.

We now know something about the importance of diet in diseases like diabetes and hypertension. More and more scientific evidence is building about the impact of nutrition on heart disease and cancer. The renewed emphasis on whole grains (if you want to get creative, look for quinoa, teff, amaranth, kamut, spelt, millet) and reducing our intake of sugar and red meat (and that does not mean changing to sugar substitutes) is in line with this scientific evidence.

The 2010 Food Pyramid looks the same as the 2005 Food Pyramid, but its increased emphasis on a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and seafood and suggestions to reduce red meat and sugar align it with the latest scientific findings.

Not no sugar. Not no red meat. Just eat more seafood and get your sweetness from fruit.

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