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Ag's Cool Nutrition
food pyramid

The Food Guide Pyramid


The Food Guide Pyramid is a guideline for healthful eating. The pyramid is flexible enough for everyone. We don't need specific foods for growth and health but we need specific nutrients that come from a lot of different foods.

Eating many different foods gives us energy and a lot of other nutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, fat and different vitamins and minerals. So, try to eat at least the smallest amount of servings from each of the food groups every day.

The milk, cheese and yogurt group provide protein, calcium and vitamin D which are all needed for strong bones, teeth and muscles. Milk, yogurt, cheese and pudding all fit into this section of the pyramid.

Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dry beans and peas, nuts and seeds supply protein, iron, B vitamins and some minerals for strong muscles and healthy blood.

Breads, cereals, rice, pasta and other grain products are a good source of complex carbohydrates, which give us the energy we need for our active lives. They also provide the B vitamins, iron, other minerals and fiber. Crackers, muffins, pancakes, grits, oatmeal and cereals are also found in this group.

Vegetables provide Vitamin A (beta carotene) and Vitamin C, complex carbohydrates and fiber. They also provide the B vitamins, calcium, potassium, and other minerals. Vegetables are needed to help us in the fight against many diseases including cancer.

Fruit supplies Vitamin A (beta carotene) and vitamin C, potassium and some other minerals to keep our skin, eyes and gums healthy. Fruit is also a good source of carbohydrate and fiber. Enjoy fruits for a nutritious, sweet snack.

What about snack foods that we all like to eat sometimes? Small amounts of candy, soft drinks, and other sweets can be eaten occasionally if you fill up on foods from the basic food groups first. But remember, these foods should not be eaten everyday. Try snacking on foods that come from each of the different food groups of the food pyramid.


How many servings of each of the food groups should we eat each day?

  • Breads, cereals, rice and pasta group: 6 to 9 servings every day
  • Vegetables: 3 to 5 servings every day
  • Fruits: 2 to 3 servings every day
  • Milk, yogurt and cheese: 2 to 3 servings every day
  • Meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs and nuts: 2 to 3 (5-6 ounces of meat) servings every day

What counts as a serving?

Bread group:
  • 1 slice of bread,
  • 1/2 cup rice or noodles
  • 1/2 hamburger bun,
  • 1/2 bagel,
  • 1/2 cup grits or oatmeal,
  • 1 ounce of cold cereal,
  • 3-4 small crackers,
  • 1 pancake
Vegetables:
  • 1 cup leafy vegetables (lettuce, spinach, or cabbage)
  • 1/2 cup raw, nonleafy vegetables
  • 1/2 cup cooked vegetables
  • 1/2cup beans or peas,
  • 1 small baked potato,
  • 3/4 cup vegetable juice
Fruits:
  • 1 medium fruit (apple, orange, peach),
  • 1/2 cup berries or cut-up fruit,
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit,
  • 3/4 cup juice
Milk:
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 cup of yogurt
  • 2 ounces processed cheese (American)
  • 1 1/2 ounces natural cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, swiss, monterey jack)
  • 1 cup frozen yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups ice cream
  • 2 cups cottage cheese

Meats:
count as one ounce of meat:
  • 1/2 cup dry beans or peas,
  • 1 egg,
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter,
  • 1/3 cup nuts,
  • 1/4 cup egg substitute
count as 2 ounces of meat:
  • 1/2 cup tuna,
  • 1 small chicken leg or thigh,
  • 2 slices sandwich-size meat
count as 3 ounces of meat:
  • 1 medium pork chop
  • 1/4 pound hamburger patty
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 unbreaded fish filet
  • cooked meat the size of a deck of cards

Fats, oils and sweets:
go easy on margarine, gravy, salad dressings, soft drinks candy bars and candies. These foods contain a lot of calories and very little nutrition.