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Since 1992, Americans have followed the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Guide Pyramid when it comes to eating healthy. However, Americans may be interested to learn that there are in fact other food guide pyramids available, and people around the globe use them for guidance instead of ours.

Some of the more interesting among them are the Mediterranean, Vegetarian, and Latin-American. If people are not satisfied with the USDA’s guide, these alternatives provide a different diet and lifestyle that may be more suitable.

It’s also important to realize that there are many choices when eating healthy, and that no one way is the absolute best way. As long as you always remember that moderation is ultimately the best diet, any of these food pyramids can help guide your food choices, and cater to your preferred tastes as well.

USDA'S FOOD GUIDE PYRAMID,

The USDA’s Food Guide Pyramid is based upon normal eating habits of Americans, but with 60% of Americans being overweight and 30% being obese those “normal eating habits” are going to cause problems. The USDA’s pyramid proposes that foods such as bread and pasta be eaten 6-11 times a day while other foods such as fruits and dairy be eaten 2-5 times a day. Vegetable servings are advised to be 3-5 times a day; furthermore recommendations for meat and poultry servings are 2-3 times a day. The guide also suggests that fats, oils, and sweets only be eaten sparingly. Because the USDA’s pyramid has been around for many years, people may feel that it is their only guide to a healthy diet.

The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid is based on an eating lifestyle that originated in Southern Italy, the Greek Island of Crete, and other areas of Greece. It’s plant based and similar to the USDA’s Diet Pyramid because it includes a small amount of dairy products, meat, and other foods, but different from because it does not include serving sizes, but instead serves as a “visual snapshot” of the importance of the food groups.. For more Mediterranean Diet information, go here.

Vegetarian Diet Pyramid

Another option is the Vegetarian Diet Pyramid which consists of plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. According to the American Heart Association, studies show that vegetarians have a lower risk of obesity, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, and some forms of cancer. Although the Vegetarian Diet Pyramid is healthy overall, it can become unhealthy if the diet includes too many calories and not enough important nutrients. The nutrients that should not be excluded from the Vegetarian Diet are Protein (soy) , Iron (dried beans, spinach, brewer’s yeast.and dried fruit), Vitamin B-12, Vitamin D, Calcium (spinch and broccoli), and Zinc (shellfish). For Vegetarian Diet Info, go here.

Latin American Diet Pyramid

The Latin American Diet Pyramid features familiar, inexpensive, healthy, and easy-to-prepare foods that bridge the gap between traditional Latin cooking and nutritional benefits. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, pasta, and whole grains are suggested for every meal while other foods such as poultry, dairy, and fish are suggested only daily. Furthermore, meats, sweets, and eggs are only recommended weekly. While incorporating the foods, culinary traditions, and practicalities of food availability throughout Latin America, this diet also provides a way to help you figure out how large each serving in each food group should be, and how often you should eat it. Latin American Diet Info.

For more information about the USDA Diet,
go here.

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 99 - July 2014
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