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 Re-thinking the Food Pyramid?

by Karina Sola & Raeanne Rubenstein

Once upon a time, everyone knew how the food pyramid worked, the foods at the bottom were good (grains), and the ones at the top (butter, oil) were bad. Simple enough, right.

But now, in 2013, things are not quite so simple, since everyone and their Uncle Sam have conflicting views on what is healthy and what is not. Even Michelle Obama, and the US Government got involved last year, when the “plates” system, and the vertical-lined food pyramid, replaced the traditional pyramid as the how to eat healthy “bible”, so to speak.

But no matter how you illustrate them, there have been and always will be certain Super Foods in every category- foods that are better than the rest, for one reason or another, and those never really change.

First published USDA Food GuideIn case you are wondering what a Super Food is exactly, it’s a form of sustenance that has a high nutritional value, meaning it’s full of vitamins and/or minerals, it has potential health benefits, like improving one’s immune system, and it has very few negative qualities, like being high in saturated fat or full of calories. How do you identify a Super Food, exactly? Enter Dish to the rescue! Below you will find examples of Super Foods that you can find at most grocery stores.

Give Me GRAINS! The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that you eat at least 3 ounces of grains a day, The USDA says, “In general, 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal, or ½ cup of cooked rice, cooked pasta, or cooked cereal can be considered a 1 ounce equivalent from the Grains Group.”

With that being said, everyone knows that bread can make you fat and many foods in the Grains Group are loaded with carbs. That’s why you must choose your grains wisely, young padawan. So if you want to give your body some extra added benefits why not try Pumpernickel Bread?

Pumpernickel bread is not only fun to say out loud, but it’s an extremely good for you if you eat small amounts of it. Like any starchy product, too much bread will fill you up and make you fat as a doughboy, but if you eat 2 slices for a sandwich, that takes care of two of your recommended grain servings and it also helps to aid your digestive tract! The Canadian Reader’s Digest stated, “One Canadian study found that pumpernickel bread had four to eight times as much resistant starch as breads made with wheat or barley. Resistant starch benefits blood sugar because it doesn’t digest easily. Like dietary fiber, it travels right past the stomach and small intestine and settles in the colon, where it’s broken down by bacteria and eventually expelled.” Slower digestion = less hunger cravings, always a good thing.

Equally Important are PROTEINS from meat, legumes, beans and nuts, which are an essential part of the human diet because protein is the main way the body gathers its energy. It’s best to eat at least 5.5 ounces of protein a day. It’s not that hard to do because protein is hidden in some foods you wouldn’t suspect, so be sure to read your labels.
1992 Food Pyramid
If you are wondering what Super Food best represents the Protein group, it’s Salmon! Salmon has a high content of Omega 3 Fatty acids which, if you don’t already know this, have a bunch of health benefits. According to WebMD, “Research shows strong evidence that the Omega-3’s EPA and DHA can boost heart health and lower triglycerides. And there are studies showing that omega-3 fatty acids may help with other conditions -- rheumatoid arthritis, depression, and many more.” And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Eating salmon is good for your cardiovascular health, it improves your cognitive thinking, and it keeps your joints and eyes be healthy too! They should call Salmon, the super fish!

FRUITS are great, and actually, most fruits are Super Foods. Still, there is one in particular that leads the pack, and that is the Pomegranate. In fact, you can find this tasty item in both the grocery store (fresh) and the drug store (usually powdered) these days, because many people as well as the media are just now picking up on how good it is for you. has this to say about pomegranates, “It is a viable source of vitamin C, fiber, potassium and folic acid. Although the pomegranate does contain a high quantity of sugar and is more calorie-dense than most fruits, it does not take a whole portion to reap its rich-in-antioxidants benefits.” Pomegranates also promote better blood flow to and from the heart. Try adding this tasty treat to a fruit salad or a veggie salad for extra flavor and nutritional value.

Choose My PlateYou can never go wrong by eating your VEGGIES, and like fruit, most vegetables are Super Foods. But there is one veggie that stands above the rest, and no, I am not talking about Avocados (Did you know they are considered a fruit, by the way?) I am talking about Bugs Bunny’s favorite snack, Carrots. The primary perk one gets from eating carrots is- improved night vision, because carrots are loaded with Beta Carotene, which converts to vision-boosting Vitamin A in the liver. Carrots also help protect against cancer, age, and infections. They work to cleanse the body, keep teeth and gums clean and healthy, support radiant skin and help prevent a stroke! And here’s a surprise! It seems that steamed or quick-cooked carrots are actually better for you than raw ones, because uncooked carrots are harder to digest than the softer cooked kind!. And here’s one more orange surprise! There are now organic beauty products available, that are great for your hair, lips and face! The most popular is called appropriately, Yes to Carrots! The more you know...

The final group that has still has a home in the food pyramid is DAIRY, though the new “Plates” System and the new “Vertical-lined Pyramid” differ quite a bit on how much dairy products are really good for you. Dairy is known for having the highest fat content, but it also has the highest recommended daily serving amount suggested by the USDA’s new “Vertical-lined Pyramid” -- 3 cups. So enjoy these daily servings by enjoying the Super Food of the dairy group- Yogurt. Plain non-fat yogurt, if you can stand to eat it, will help you lose weight, but many people enjoy the sweetness of a fruit flavored yogurt (check the calorie count on the container, though) , of which there are many kinds. All yogurts have active cultures and “good bacteria” in them that boost the body’s immune system. For example, yogurt can reduce high blood pressure, prevent osteoporosis, help you feel fuller, and for the ladies, it can help cure yeast infections! Be sure to say “yes” to yogurt and your body will thank you for it.
My Pyramind, new food pyramid
Please note that as of last year Fat, Oil, and Sugar are no longer considered a food group, and is not included in either the “Plates” or the “Vertical-Lined Pyramid” lists of food groups. Still, you know as I do that we all still eat them, and love them (maybe a little too much). Now this may or may not be well and good depending on what type and how much you consume), but how it is possible to find a Super Food in the FATS/OILS/and SUGARS category?

In the old days, we were taught that everything at the top of the food pyramid was the bad stuff, the stuff we should stay away from. Though many people use sugar substitutes to sweeten their food and particularly drinks, like tea,, but how about trying something a lot more delicious, more natural, and more beneficial- like the ancient Greeks favorite sweetener- Honey? Depending upon the type of honey, it can be somewhat sweet or very sweet, depending on the sucrose content. In case you didn’t know this, honey is a natural energy booster. A tablespoon of honey before you work-out will give you the energy to push yourself to the limit! There are also recipes featuring honey that promise to cure all sorts of ailments. For example, blending honey, orange juice and yogurt can cure a hangover. Or smear some honey on a cut or bruise and it will heal faster, because key ingredients in honey also fight bacteria! Honey also helps with a sore throat by coating it, and honey fights cancer too! Too much honey can make you fat, but a little bit goes a long way in keeping you healthy!

Try these Super Foods as well as many others that exist to get the most out of life, and to help your body be as healthy as it can be!
 / Issue 144 - September 2146
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