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Pyramid or plate? Explore these healthy diet options
Healthy diets come in all shapes and sizes. Pick one and discover how easy it is to eat healthy.By Mayo Clinic staff
A healthy diet can be illustrated in many ways, but it's often found in the shape of a pyramid. Most people are familiar with MyPyramid developed by the Department of Agriculture, but that's history now. It's been replaced with MyPlate.
However, many other healthy diets are still represented by food pyramids. These include the Asian, Latin American, Mediterranean and Vegetarian Food Guide pyramids, as well as the Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid, just to name a few. These graphics reinforce the choices that are the foundation of a healthy diet.
Basic principles of a healthy diet
Symbols, such as a pyramid, illustrate how the pieces of a healthy diet fit together. The base of the pyramid is typically made up of foods that should be the bulk of your healthy diet. In contrast, foods you should eat in smaller amounts or less frequently are shown in the smaller sections of the pyramid. The same principle applies to the dinner plate — half of the plate consists of fruits and vegetables, which should be the bulk of your diet.
Of course, no single food provides all of the nutrients that your body needs, so the idea is to eat a variety of foods from each group in the proper proportions to get all the necessary nutrients and other substances that promote good health.
In addition, most healthy-diet plans emphasize the following:
- Eat more plant foods, including fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Choose lean protein from a variety of sources.
- Limit sweets and salt.
- Control portion sizes.
- Be physically active.
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- Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/DGAs2010-PolicyDocument.htm. Accessed May 31, 2011.
- My Plate. U.S. Department of Agriculture. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/index.html. Accessed June 2, 2011.
- Traditional diets and Oldways' four pyramids. Oldways Preservation Trust. http://www.oldwayspt.org/eating-well/introduction-traditional-diet-pyramids Accessed May 31, 2011.
- Messina V, et al. Food guide for vegetarians. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2003;103:771.
- Hensrud DD, et al. The Mayo Clinic Diet. Intercourse, Pa.: Good Books; 2010.
- Getting started with MyPlate. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/MyPlate/GettingStartedWithMyPlate.pdf. Accessed June 2, 2011.
- Nelson JK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 2, 2011.
- Choose MyPlate: 10 tips. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/downloads/TenTips/DGTipsheet1ChooseMyPlate.pdf. Accessed June 2, 2011.
- Food groups. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/foodgroups/index.html. Accessed June 2, 2011.
- The Oldways' Mediterranean diet pyramid. Oldways Preservation Trust. http://www.oldwayspt.org/mediterranean-diet-pyramid. Accessed May 31, 2011.
- The Oldways' Asian diet pyramid. Oldways Preservation Trust. http://www.oldwayspt.org/asian-diet-pyramid. Accessed May 31, 2011.
- The Oldways' Latin American diet pyramid. Oldways Preservation Trust. http://www.oldwayspt.org/latino-diet-pyramid. Accessed May 31, 2011.