In June the United States Department of Food and Agriculture released a new version of the food pyramid in the form of a plate guideline to help Americans make healthy choices when deciding what to eat.
The latest version, called MyPlate, features a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, with less of an emphasis on proteins and grains. Instead of the original food pyramid which provided daily recommended servings of grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, protein, and sweets, the new design shows a plate divided into four portions with a small optional side dish. One half of the plate is dedicated to equal portions of fruit and vegetables, while the other half contains one portion of protein and another portion of grains, with the optional side dish being a serving of dairy.
The new initiative was backed strongly by the Obama family, who have launched several other programs to encourage children, as well as adults, to engage in physical activity and make healthy choices. The hope is that the unveiling of a new program will remind Americans what healthy eating means by capturing their attention which may have wandered over the years. Also, the newer guidelines explain how to lay out a healthy plate at each meal, whereas the older pyramid gave vague suggestions to be followed throughout the day.
Perhaps the biggest change between the two, other than the obvious format transformation, is the movement towards an emphasis on fruits and vegetables and less of a focus on grains which previously formed the base of the pyramid with the largest recommended servings per day. While carbohydrates should remain a vital component of every diet because they are the basic building blocks for energy and brain power, the new program changes up the main source of carbohydrates from grains to fruits and vegetables. This not only will help to reduce the number of calories consumed, but also provides a greater amount of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in addition to the numerous other health benefits associated with higher intakes of fruit and vegetables.
The new image and guidelines themselves will not automatically solve all of the problems related to food intake like obesity and high blood pressure, the USDA hopes that they will be combined with portion control and physical activity to create healthier lifestyles for all Americans.