Choose a food pyramid

Although it might seem trite, a food pyramid is still a good tool for learning how to eat healthier. Categories of foods are arranged in sections within a pyramid as an easy-to-remember visual guide of the types and quantities of foods to be eaten. Categories near the pyramid’s base take up more space and represent foods that should be eaten in greater quantities and more frequently. Categories near the top of the pyramid are for foods that should be consumed in smaller quantities and less frequently.

Reducing saturated fats and cholesterol is important to improving heart-health, but it’s not a stand-alone solution. A balanced diet that includes categories of foods from a food pyramid, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, is necessary to achieve optimum heart-health.

The Mayo Clinic provides a Healthy Weight Pyramid tool on their  Web site. The site also provides food pyramids for healthy diets that fit a variety of  lifestyles:

  • Vegetarian
  • Asian
  • Latin American
  • Mediterranean

If you compare the categories from the pyramids on the Mayo Clinic’s site, you’ll see that every pyramid includes a small amount of fat daily as part of a healthy diet — as long as it’s the right type and eaten in moderation.

Basic principles apply

With a variety of food pyramids to choose from, why not choose the one that most closely matches your  preferences and lifestyle? The basic principles of a healthy diet are the same on all pyramids displayed on the Mayo Clinic’s Web site:

  • Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Reduce intake of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol.
  • Limit sweets and salt.
  • Drink alcoholic beverages in moderation, if at all.
  • Control portion sizes and the total number of calories you consume.
  • Include physical activity in your daily routine.
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