Healthy eating and proper nutrition are essential to making good food choices. Today, there are many different diets you can choose from, but which is best for YOU? Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a food pyramid with more specific advice on portion size and calories to help people gain better guidance for healthy eating.
- Orange represents grains. The USDA recommends eating 5-8 ounces of grain per day.
- Green represents vegetables. The USDA’s dietary guidelines recommend 2½ cups of vegetables per day for people eating 2,000 calories a day, with higher or lower amounts depending on the calorie level.
- Red represents fruits. The latest dietary guidelines call for people to eat two cups of fruit a day.
- Yellow represents oils. The USDA recommends getting most of your fat sources from fish, nuts and vegetable oils.
- Blue represents milk. The latest USDA dietary guidelines encourage consuming three cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk.
- Purple represents beans and meats. The USDA says people should choose lean meats and poultry while consuming varying protein sources, grass fed beef snack would work perfectly.
But is this really the best plan for healthy eating? Nutrition experts have been wrong in the past. For example, saturated fats were thought to contribute to health problems including an increased risk of heart disease for decades. Recent research revealed that in fact this was not true. So last fall, experts on the committee responsible for developing the country’s dietary guidelines acknowledged that low-fat diets were not necessarily healthier. This isn’t the first time the government has been wrong about their dietary recommendations for healthy eating.
In 2013, we were advised to reduce our salt intake but that suggestion was contradicted by an Institute of Medicine study.
So let’s take a look at the food pyramid for a moment. If you were to flip it upside down the guidelines for healthy eating would then include large amounts of protein from beans and meat, then milk, then fats. Then would come fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Many dietary experts believe that this is actually the best approach to healthy eating because protein is one of the most essential nutrients for a lean body. Fats are also vital to the proper function of many body systems including the brain. This dietary approach most closely resembles a Paleolithic diet (one that includes foods only eaten by our caveman ancestors).
Choosing the right diet is a personal choice but when we take a look at what the government has recommended in the past it is clear that they are not always correct. And in the case of the food pyramid they might have things completely backwards! A diet that includes fewer grains, less sugar and more protein from animal foods like meat, dairy and eggs is a great way to achieve good health. It also includes very few processed foods that are known to cause chronic health problems.