A healthy eating pyramid is a visual representation of the nutritional elements that make up a balanced diet. It is designed to help individuals make informed decisions about their daily food intake and ensure an optimal nutritional lifestyle. The 6 food groups which are included on the Healthy Eating Pyramid are grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, proteins, and oils.
Grains – Grains provide a variety of vitamins and minerals that are essential for a healthy diet. They are also a good source of carbohydrates and dietary fiber. Whole grains such as brown rice, oats and barley should be the primary source of carbohydrates in the diet.
Refined grains such as white bread and pasta should be limited to no more than half of total grain consumption.
Vegetables – Vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. They should make up at least one-third of an individual’s daily food intake. Fruits can also contribute to this portion of the pyramid but they should not replace vegetables as they have higher sugar content.
Fruits – Fruits contain essential vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber but they should be consumed in moderation due to their higher sugar content when compared to vegetables. Fruits can be fresh or frozen but canned fruits often contain added sugars so these should be avoided.
Dairy – Dairy products provide calcium and other essential nutrients for bone health. Low-fat or fat-free dairy products are recommended over full-fat versions as they contain fewer calories yet still provide essential nutrients.
Proteins – Protein is important for building muscle mass, fighting off infection and repairing cells in the body. Animal sources such as lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products are recommended but plant sources such as legumes can also contribute to protein intake.
Oils – Oils are an important part of a balanced diet as they provide essential fatty acids which cannot be obtained from other food sources. Unsaturated fats such as olive oil or canola oil should be chosen over saturated fats such as butter or lard.