There are very few government offices that “get it right” and the USDA is no exception. When the USDA first launched the food pyramid in 1972 it met with limited success. The revised food pyramid launched in 2005 failed miserably. This in turn prompted the nutrition experts at the Harvard School of Public Health to redesign the food pyramid into something more useful and understandable by the public. They renamed their version of the food pyramid as the Healthy Eating Food Pyramid.
The base of the Healthy Eating Food Pyramid is reserved for daily physical activities.
For the first time ever, public dietary advice was linked to physical activity because research clearly indicated a strong link between food, good health and physical activity (exercise). The scholars at Harvard School of Public Health established that exercise and weight control are interlinked and went on to create
the simple weight control formulae that was easily understood by all, which is: Weight change = calories in – calories out.
The new Healthy Eating Food Pyramid devised by Harvard School of Public Health comprised of 7 essential bricks. These were:
- Fruits and vegetables be given a place of pride on the plate.
Humans digest fruits and vegetables more easily than they do meat, sweets and fats. Also, fruits and vegetables provide the bulk of our daily dietary requirements.
- Eat whole grain foods for carbs and energy.
Like all engines, the human body too needs energy and the best source for it is carbohydrates. Carbs are used by the body to generate energy and best source of carbs are whole grains products. Another reason why carbohydrates are important is because it prevents blood sugar and insulin levels going haywire. Also, whole grains ensure you don’t feel hungry quickly.
- The Healthy Eating Food Pyramid has placed fats and oils in between vegetable and grains.
Most Americans receive about a third of their daily calories from fats. Healthy fats have been given prominence because it not only improves cholesterol levels, it also protects our heart from rhythm problems. Also, contrary to popular belief, fats are unhealthy only if consumed in excess. Healthy fats and oils are therefore given a prominent place in the Healthy Eating Food Pyramid.
- Another prominently mentioned food group in the Healthy Eating Food Pyramid is nuts, beans, tofu and seeds.
This food group is an excellent source of dietary fiber, protein, minerals, healthy fats and vitamins.
- No Food Pyramid can be complete without a place for eggs, fish and poultry.
This food group is not only an important source of protein it also reduces the risk of heart attacks because fish is rich in omega-3 fats. (Omega-3 fatty acids are a good stress reliever, too!) Poultry is also a good source of low fat proteins. An egg is a complete meal in itself and the ideal time to have an egg is at breakfast.
Finally, I’d like to point out that the Healthy Eating Food Pyramid is more about quality and form.
The Healthy Eating Food Pyramid is meant to be a simple and flexible guide to healthy eating and living.