The Importance of the 5 Food Groups and Food Pyramid
As most of us know, food is divided into 4 basic food groups. This helps us categorize the types of food that are beneficial to us. Foods that give us the proper nutrition and help aid in development and growth. The first and largest food group is the grains and its alternatives. This food group contains very starchy food types such as: rice, pasta, bread, cereals, barley, and potatoes. Even though potato is considered a vegetable, it contains high amounts of starch and complex carbohydrates that fall under the branch of grains and its alternatives. The second food group is proteins. Proteins come in many different shapes and forms such as: beef, poultry (chicken, duck, pigeon, etc), fish, eggs, legumes (beans and nuts), etc. The third food group is the fruits and vegetables. This covers most edible plant fruit (ex. Apples and zucchini), roots (ex. Carrots and beets), and leafy greens (ex. Broccoli and spinach). This group is considered to be one of the most nutritious groups since it supplies the eater with most of its vitamins and natural supplements that is needed for growth and proper development. This is why vegetarians are able to survive only on vegetables and its products. With a well balanced diet followed by a proper nutritionist, you can find all your requirements within this group. The final group is dairy and its alternatives. Within this category you find most milk (milk that comes from various animals) and milk products such as: cheese, butter, ghee, cream, yogurt, etc.
Now that we all know what our food groups are and what each food group contains, next comes the big question: how much of everything do I eat? Even though proteins are good for you, but you cannot survive alone on steak and chicken. You need a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, grains, and diary in order to stay healthy. Due to that reason, scientists have come up with a food pyramid. This food pyramid shows how much to eat of everything in proportion to one another. The largest of amount of the food groups you should consume are the grains. You find that you do that anyway in your everyday life. For example you have two slices of toast in the morning, then croutons in your salad, and finally some rice or pasta with dinner. If you think about your every day meals, you’ll find that the base for most of your meals have some sort of grain element or alternative. Most think that grains are the main cause of gaining weight which is not true. It’s the type of grain product that you eat that makes a difference. Whole grain products are high in nutrients and low in calories that help you avoid the unnecessary weight gain. You should consume 6-11 servings of grains and its alternatives every day. The second level of the pyramid has the fruits and vegetables group. Each of your meals should contain something from this group. It is even preferred that you eat the fruits and vegetables raw since cooking them may cause them to lose some of the important nutrients that you would need to stay healthy. You should typically eat 3-5 servings of vegetables and 2-4 servings of fruit per day. Remember that fruit contains a lot of natural sugar which you should eat within reason.
The third level of the pyramid has two food groups within it. This level contains both the dairy food group and the protein food group. You should eat equal amount of dairy and protein throughout your day. It is recommended to eat 2-3 servings of dairy and 2-3 servings of protein throughout your day. And finally the last level of the pyramid, which is the smallest of them all, is reserved for foods that are high in fats, oils, and sweets such as chips, cookies, and sweets. It is recommended that you eat these foods sparingly from 0-1 serving per day. Remember to make sure to read labels on any food product that you buy and to properly calculate the calories according to serving.