The food pyramid is the basic tool in identifying the right amount of food to be taken per food category. However, most people do not follow the dietary guidelines in the food pyramid and just rely on what they want and what is appealing for them. The food pyramid helps people in preparing the most balanced meal in order to consume only what are right for the body and prevent deficiencies and excess. The following discusses the food groups under the food pyramid and their general uses and benefits to the body.
- Water and Beverages
The base of the pyramid is composed of water and beverages, which means that people should consume more fluid than any other food groups. The daily average food intake should be 8 to 10 glasses. Fluids can come from water, juice, and smoothies. Avoid sodas, carbonated beverages, alcohol and too much coffee. Fluids help hydrate the cells and prevent dehydration during cases of acute illnesses such as diarrhea and vomiting.
Carbohydrates are the second most abundant food in the diet. Carbohydrates should be 5 to 8 servings a day. Carbohydrates can be found in rice, corn, bread, root crops, noodles, pasta and other starchy foods. Carbohydrates are the source of energy for the body.
- Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits should constitute 2 to 3 servings while vegetables should be 3 servings a day. Fruits and vegetables are required to supply the body with the needed vitamins and minerals for cellular health, wound healing and prevention of infections.
Dairy products should constitute 1 to 2 serving a day equivalent to one glass of milk. Dairy products provide the body with essential minerals and calcium that can be used for various body processes.
Proteins are also essential in the diet because they serve as the building blocks of muscles and cells. People need one to two servings of proteins a day in the form of lean pork, beef, chicken, turkey, legumes, nut and others. The diet needs 1 to 2 servings of proteins in a day.
- Fats and Oils
Fats and oils constitute the least amount in the diet because the body does not need anything in excess. Fats should only constitute one serving a day. Fats can come from butter, margarine, and oil. Use unsaturated oils rather than saturated ones, which contain a lot of bad cholesterol.
In order to prepare the diet, consider the serving guide in the food pyramid. Using the food pyramid in the preparation of foods includes the following benefits:
- Provides balanced diet- Balanced diet is the end goal of the food pyramid. A balanced diet provides the body with the right amount of food per category, which is actually needed by the body.
- Prevents nutritional deficiencies- having a balanced diet prevents lack of intake of appropriate nutrients because the recipes ensure that all nutrients are covered.
Children, older adults, pregnant women and lactating mothers benefit from a balanced diet because they are the ones who need optimum nutrition. Pregnant women are especially benefited because it prevents poor pregnancy outcomes such as the presence of congenital disorders such as goldenhar syndrome.