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Nutrition Basics Index
The Food Guide Pyramid
The Food Guide Pyramid
The Food Groups
Putting It Together
What is a Serving?
Closer Look at Fats & Sugar
Rate Your Diet
Dietary Guidelines for Americans
Recommended Dietary Allowances
All about Vitamins
All about Minerals
The Food Groups

Why are breads, cereals, rice & pasta important?

These foods provide complex carbohydrates (starches), which are important sources of energy, especially in low-fat diets. They also provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber. The Food Guide Pyramid suggests 6 to 11 servings of these foods a day.

What counts as a serving?
  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1 ounce of ready-to-eat cereal
  • 1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice, or pasta
Aren't starchy foods fattening?

No. It's what you add to these foods or cook with them that adds most of the calories. For example: margarine or butter on bread, oil in frying rice or noodles, and the extra fat used in making roti. Here are some selection tips:

»To get the fiber you need, choose several servings a day of foods made from whole grains, such as whole wheat bread and brown rice.

»Choose most often foods that are made with little fat or sugars. These include bread, english muffins, rice, and pasta.

»Baked goods made from flour, such as cakes, cookies, croissants, and pastries, count as part of this food group, but they are high in fat and sugars.

»Go easy on the fat and sugars you add as spreads, seasonings, or toppings.

»When making sauces or stuffing, use only half the margarine or oil sggested. Instead of cream or whole milk, use low-fat milk.

Why are fruits important?

Fruit and pure fruit juices provide important amounts of vitamins A and C and potassium. They are low in fat and sodium. The Food Guide Pyramid suggests 2 to 4 servings of fruits a day.

What counts as a serving?
  • a medium apple, banana, or orange
  • 1/2 cup of chopped, cooked, or canned fruit
  • 3/4 cup of fruit juice
Here are some selection tips:

»Choose fresh fruits, fruit juices and canned or dried fruit. Pass on fruit canned in heavy syrups and sweetened fruit juices unless you need the extra calories.

»Eat whole fruits more often - they are higher in fiber than fruit juices.

»Have citrus and yellow-orange flesh fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, papaya, and mango regularly. They are rich in vitamin C.

»Count only 100 percent fruit juice as fruit. Punches, "ades", and most fruit drinks contain only a little juice and lots of added sugars. Grape and orange sodas do not count as fruit juice.

Why are vegetables important?

Vegetables provide vitamins, such as vitamins A and C, and folate, and minerals, such as iron and magnesium. They are naturally low in fat and also provide fiber. The Food Guide Pyramid suggests 3-5 servings of vegetables a day.

What counts as a serving?
  • 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables
  • 1/2 cup of other vegetables, cooked or raw
  • 3/4 cup of vegetable juice
Here are some selection tips:

»Different types of vegetables provide different nutrients. For variety eat:
  • dark-green leafy vegetables (spinach, romaine lettuce, broccoli);
  • deep-yellow vegetables (carrots, turnip, sweet potatoes);
  • starchy vegetables (potatoes, yam, corn, peas);
  • legumes (navy, pinto and kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas);
  • other vegetables (lettuce, tomatoes, onions, green beans)
»Include dark-green leafy vegetables and legumes several times a week - they are especially good sources of vitamins and minerals. Legumes also provide protein and can be used in place of meat.

»Go easy on the fat you add to vegetables after or during cooking. Added spreads or toppings, such as butter, mayonnaise, and salad dressing, count as fat.

»Use low-fat salad dressing whenever possible.

Why are Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs and Nutsimportant?

Meat, poultry, and fish supply protein, B vitamins, iron, and zinc. The other foods in this group - dry beans, eggs, and nuts - are similar to meats in providing protein and most vitamins and minerals. The Food Guide Pyramid suggests 2 to 3 servings each day of foods from this group. The total amount of these servings should be 5 to 7 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish per day or its equivalent.

What counts as a serving?
  • Count 2-3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish as a serving. A 3-ounce piece of cooked meat is about the size of an average hamburger, or the amount of meat on half of a medium chicken breast.
  • For other foods in this group, count 1/2 cup of cooked dry beans, 1/3 cup of nuts and seeds, or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter as 1 oz of meat. 1 egg is equivalent to 1 ounce of meat (1/3 serving).
Counting to see if you have an equivalent of 5-7 ounces of cooked lean meat a day is sometimes tricky. Portions sizes vary with the type of food and meal. For example, 6 ounces might come from:
  • 1 egg (count as 1 oz. of lean meat) for breakfast;
  • 2 oz. of tuna in a sandwich at lunch; and
  • 3 oz. chicken (half breast) for dinner.

Light & dark meat,
without the skin

Most are low in fat;
those canned in oil contains more
PORK Roast/Chops:
Center Loin
BEEF Roast/Steaks:
Chuck Arm
LAMB Roast/Chops:
Fore Shanks
Here are some selection tips:

» Choose lean meat, poultry without skin, fish, and dry beans and peas often. They are the lowest fat choices.
» Prepare meats in low fat ways:
  • Trim away all the fat you can see.
  • Broil, roast, or stew these foods, instead of frying them.
» Go easy on egg yolk; they are high in cholesterol. Use only one yolk per person in egg dishes. Make larger portions by adding extra egg whites.
» Nuts and seeds are high in fat, so eat them in moderation.

Why are Milk, Yoghurt and Cheeseimportant?

Milk products provide protein, vitamins and minerals. Milk, yoghurt and cheeseare the best sources of calcium. The Food Guide Pyramid suggests 2 to 3 servings each day of foods from this group - 2 for most people and 3 servings for women who are pregnant and breastfeeding, teenagers and young adults up to the age of 24.

What counts as a serving?
  • 1 cup of milk or yoghurt
  • 1-1/2 oz of natural cheese
  • 2 oz of processed cheese
Here are some selection tips:

» Choose skim milk and non-fat yoghurt often. They are lowest in fat.
» 1-1/2 to 2 oz of cheese and 8 oz of yoghurt counts as a serving as it contains the same amount of calcium as 1 cup of milk.
» Cottage cheese is lower in calcium than most cheeses. 1 cup of cottage cheese counts as only 1/2 serving of milk.
» Go easy on high fat cheese and ice cream. They can add a lot of fat (especially saturated fat) to your diet.
» Choose part skim and low fat cheeses when available and lower fat milk desserts like ice milk or frozen yoghurt.
Read the next section for further explanation of Putting It Together.

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