Yes, you read that right; there are more than one healthy eating pyramids. Just as there are many cultures in the world today, there are many healthy eating pyramids.
There is the USDA Foods Pyramid, the healing foods pyramid, the mediterAsian pyramid, the Vegetarian and Vegan Pyramids and even pyramids geared towards specific diseases.
Food pyramids are visual aids that help us to understand which foods are healthy for us to eat and how much of each food we should eat to have a healthy and balanced diet. There are experts that believe that the standard “USDA Food Pyramid of 2005” has major flaws in it and have suggested alternative food pyramids.
The healthy eating pyramid that is suggested by the Harvard School of Public Health is one such pyramid. It is intended to fix the fundamental flaws in the USDA pyramid. This pyramid encourages individuals to replace red meat with a heart-healthy combination of fish, poultry, beans and nuts.
There are some foods believed to have healing powers, so the University of Michigan came up with the Healing Foods Pyramid that emphasizes foods known for their healing benefits or the essential nutrients contained in them. The pyramid has plant-based choices, a balance and variety of color, nutrients and portion size as well as support of a healthy environment.
The MediterrAsian Pyramid emphasizes both Mediterranean and Asian diets and the lifestyle practices that have been linked to achieving lower risk for heart disease and other diseases such as certain cancers. This pyramid helps westerners to learn how to understand and utilize the MeditterrAsian foods that are healthy.
If you avoid all forms of animal protein and dairy products in your diet you will find the Vegetarian and Vegan Pyramids useful. This pyramid emphasizes protein from plant sources. Vegetarian diets are typically lower in fat and higher in fiber.
A healthy diet includes the right balance of vitamins and minerals for the health of your body. A well-balanced diet includes fresh fruits, vegetables, and protein and dairy sources. Certain individuals have special needs when it comes to nutrition especially the very young, the very old, and also pregnant women.
The healthy eating pyramid stresses that a healthy diet is anchored by regular exercise that keeps calories in balance and weight in check. The healthy eating pyramid is focused on food, not grams and acknowledges that the healthiest diet is one that is focused on plant-based diet. The healthy eating diet also stresses to cut back on red meat, refined grains, potatoes, sugary drinks, and salty snacks. If individuals eat meat, they should choose fish and poultry. To stay healthy besides eating healthy individuals should take a multivitamin and drink moderately (those who don’t currently drink should not start).
The healing foods pyramid emphasizes only foods that are known to have healing benefits or essential nutrients, plant-based choices, variety and balance of color, nutrients and portion size, mindful eating and also the function of water to healthy eating.
The MediterrAsian Pyramid starts at the bottom with daily physical activity, then bread, pasta, rice, couscous, polenta, other whole grains and potatoes, on the next level are fruits, beans, legumes, and nuts as well as vegetables, then the next level is olive oil, followed by a level that contains cheese and yogurt, then the fish level, the poultry level, the eggs level, the sweets level and finally at the very top the meat level. The bottom levels Daily activity, breads, pasta, rice… fruits, legumes… and vegetables, olive oil, and cheese and yogurt are to be consumed daily. The fish, poultry, eggs and sweets are to be consumed weekly and the meat to be consumed monthly. Wine is to be consumed in moderation with water being consumed daily.
The vegetarian diet pyramid excludes red meat, chicken and fish. Some vegetarians also exclude eggs and milk products. The pyramid features whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables and includes moderate amounts of nuts and seeds, soy, egg whites, dairy products and plant oils.