New Healthy Eating Pyramid
In an effort to combat the obesity epidemic, improve daily nutrition, and promote healthy eating choices, Australia recently adopted a new Healthy Eating Pyramid.
The Healthy Eating Pyramid details three separate food group layers and offers illustrations to show both children and adults what a well-rounded diet looks like.
The Foundation Layers
Much like the foundational layer of a pyramid reinforces and supports the entire infrastructure, the base layer of this Healthy Eating Pyramid serves a similar purpose – foods within this bottom layer should make up 70% of what we eat each day.
Three plant-based food groups make up this foundational layer:
These food groups are excellent sources of healthy carbohydrates and fiber to help keep you fueled throughout the day and aid the digestive tract. When it comes to selecting foods from the grains group, whole grain and high fiber sources are advised.
As vegetables and fruits are packed with vitamins and minerals, balancing your diet with a healthy amount of micronutrients will help several bodily functions and the immune system.
Older children and adults should try and consume around 2 servings of fruit and 5 servings of vegetables or legumes each day.1
The Middle Layer
The middle layer consists of several food groups:
This middle layer is where the bulk of your protein should come from. Many know that protein is involved in supporting muscle function and repair after exercising, but this is just one of this macronutrient’s many advantages. Protein is involved in cellular repair throughout the body and in supporting healthy hormonal function.
Foods in this group provide nutrients besides protein, too, like calcium from dairy products, and iodine, iron, B12 vitamins, and zinc from lean meat, fish, nuts, and eggs.
For those that avoid dairy, this middle layer includes non-dairy sources from rice, soy, and cereal milks. When selecting these non-dairy sources, try and stay with options that provide 100 mg of added calcium per 100 ml of milk.
The Top Layer
The tip of the pyramid includes healthy fats. Despite what may come to your head when hearing the word “fat,” healthy fats like polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are important for cardiovascular health and brain function.1
Healthy fats are found in nut and seed oils and extra virgin olive oil. The tip of the pyramid is smaller than the other layers, meaning you don’t need excessive amounts of oils in your diet. If you’re following the Healthy Eating Pyramid, you’ll get additional healthy fats from foods within the other layers, like avocados, fish, and nuts.
The Healthy Eating Pyramid encourages people to take advantage of herbs and spices. Herbs and spices not only enhance flavor but also help combat heart disease, diabetes, and cancer through their antioxidant content.2 Lastly, people should drink more water and limit daily salt and sugar consumption. Both of these suggestions will help improve hydration, mediate unwanted weight gain, and support heart health.
With so many convenient restaurants, fast food chains, and snack options, Australia’s new Healthy Eating Pyramid stands as an excellent guide to help people make smarter food choices for a better, well-rounded diet.