Food Pyramids: How to Stay Healthy Food Pyramids: How to Stay Healthy
Harvard School of Public Health

Instead of waiting for nutrition to happen, experts in nutrition from Harvard School of Public Health have created the Healthy Eating Pyramid. It is the goal of the Food Guide Pyramid to give the best possible advice for eating healthy and to help stay healthy.

Released in early January 2005, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 made several new recommendations in the right direction over the original U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Guide Pyramid that was created over a decade ago.

Important as it is, the information given was not pointing in the right direction for healthy eating. As an alternative to the USDA’s “My Pyramid”, the Harvard School of Public Health released more information to help people make better choices about what you eat, called the Healthy Eating Pyramid.

The Healthy Eating Pyramid summarizes the best dietary information available today. It isn’t in stone, because it will change to reflect important new evidence.

Daily exercise and weight control are the two elements that strongly influence your chances of staying healthy, as well as how you eat and how foods affect you. Other guideline includes:

– Whole Grain Foods (at most meals). Whole grains are the best source of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates keep blood sugar and insulin from rising and falling, too quickly. Under this category come oatmeal, whole-grain bread and brown rice. They deliver the outer (bran) and inner (germ) layers along with energy-rich starch.

– Plant Oils. The average American gets one-third or more of his or her daily calories
from fat. In the Healthy Eating Pyramid, eating fats are near the base of its pyramid. Good sources of healthy unsaturated fats are, olive, canola, soy, corn, sunflower, and peanut. Healthy fats can improve cholesterol levels, eaten instead of highly processed carbohydrates.
– Vegetables (in abundance) and Fruits (2 to 3 times a day). This kind of diet can help
reduce your chance of a stroke, or heart attack; protect against certain cancers, can help lower blood pressure and also guard against cataract and macular degeneration.

– Nut and Legumes and Other Sources of Protein. (2 to 3 times a day). Nuts and legumes are a good source of protein, as well as fiber, vitamins and minerals. You can choose from all kinds of beans as well as garbanzos, which are excellent sources of protein. Many kinds of nuts contain healthy fats like, walnuts, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, peanuts and pistachios. The labeling on nuts can even say that they are good for your heart. Eggs can also be a good source of protein, but are fairly high in cholesterol. An egg is still much better for breakfast than a doughnut, which is cooked in oil, and is rich in trans fats, or a bagel made from refined flour. A protein that is low in saturated fat can be found in fish and poultry, for those who prefer another source rather than legumes and nuts.

– Dairy or Calcium Supplements (1 to 2 times daily). It is best to stick to low-fat or non-fat dairy products. Building bones and keeping them strong depends on exercise, vitamin D and calcium. Non-fat milk and cheese contain a lot of saturated fat, so if you don’t want to use dairy products, use calcium supplements to get the daily requirement.

– Red Meat and Butter (Use Sparingly): These sit at the top, rather than at the bottom of the Healthy Eating Pyramid… Red meats and butter contain a lot of saturated fat.
There are other choices of protein like nuts and legumes that do not contain harmful fats. So switching from butter to olive oil can be advantageous for your health.

– White Rice, White Bread, Potatoes, Pasta, and Sweets (Use Sparingly) These types
of foods can lead to weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic diseases.
They increase your blood sugar where whole-grain carbohydrates cause slower, steadier increases in blood sugar so the body can handle the carbohydrates better.
– Multiple Vitamin (a daily multivitamin). You don’t need an expensive name brand,
Look for one that meets the requirements of the USP (U.S. Pharmacopeia) and organization that sets standards for drugs and supplement.

Whatever guideline one chooses to follow, the emphasis is on the benefit of physical exercise, weight control, sugar limitation, eating an abundance of vegetables and fruits, increasing whole grains and limiting the fat intake.

“The aim of the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source is to provide timely information on diet and nutrition for clinicians, allied health professionals, and the public”