Friday, June 3, 2011

Out with the Old and In with the New

The pyramid is being replaced – by a plate! The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture has put out a new redesigned nutritional guide to help build healthier eating patterns. As you can see below, the plate is divided into wedges and labeled with the appropriate foods and portions for each wedge. Vegetables and fruit cover one-half of the plate, while whole grains and protein cover the other half. If you notice, the portions for vegetables and whole grains are larger than the ones for fruits and protein. Most of our nutrients from plant based foods; however, protein is also an important part of our diet. Protein is found in every cell, tissue, muscle and bone in our body. The average person needs .8 grams of protein per 1 pound of bodyweight; thus, a 140lb person would need 112 grams of protein per day – or about 4 4oz. servings. To the right of the plate is a small circle symbolizing the portion for dairy - about 2 servings per day.

Dietitians have been promoting this way of eating for years – a healthy eating pattern that focuses on nutrient-dense foods—vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, lean meats and poultry, seafood, eggs, beans and peas, and nuts and seeds. These foods contain the most nutrients when prepared without added solid (saturated) fats, sugars, starches, and sodium. These foods can provide the full range of essential nutrients and fiber, without excessive calories, that our bodies need to function properly. The oils contained in seafood, nuts and seeds, as well as vegetable oils added to foods contribute essential nutrients.
What is missing from the plate? There is no area on the plate for sweets and alcohol. These foods are not vital for the body to properly function. The consumption of too many sugary sweets and alcohol can be detrimental to the body, so they should be consumed sparingly.

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