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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diet and Nutrition > Food Guide Pyramid
      Category : Health Centers > Food, Nutrition, and Metabolism

Food Guide Pyramid


The Food Guide Pyramid is an outline of what to eat each day for good health. The Pyramid is not a rigid prescription, but a general guide that lets people choose a healthy diet that fits their lifestyle. The Pyramid is flexible, practical, and visual. It is meant for healthy males and females, age two and older. The Pyramid provides a range of servings from each food group. This makes it flexible to fit all types and sizes of people.

The Pyramid calls for eating a variety of foods. In this way, a person will get the nutrients needed for health and the right amount of calories to maintain and improve weight. The Food Guide Pyramid conveys three main messages. These are:

  • Eat a variety of foods in each group.
  • Balance food intake.
  • Eat in moderation by choosing foods that meet needs for calories, total fat, cholesterol, sodium, and sugar.
  • The Pyramid also focuses on fat and sugar. This is because most American diets are too high in fat, especially saturated fat and sugar. Foods in each food group have different amounts of fat and sugar. Symbols in the Pyramid show the groups that have more fat and sugar. This includes naturally occurring sugars, such as those found in fruit, like fructose, and those found in dairy, like lactose, as well as added sugars. The tip of the Pyramid shows foods that are made mostly of fat and/or sugar.

    Foods at the bottom of the Pyramid, where it is the largest, are foods that should be eaten most often. Foods at the top of the Pyramid, where it is the smallest, are foods that should be eaten in small amounts. All of the food groups are needed for good health. Nutrients in each food group differ so one group cannot be substituted for another.

    Following the Food Guide Pyramid is an easy way to eat a healthy diet. By eating a healthier diet a person can help maintain a healthy weight. This can help protect against health problems such as heart disease and cancer.

    Author: Clare Armstrong, MS, RD
    Reviewer: Kimberly A. Tessmer, RD, LD
    Date Reviewed: 03/27/01

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