The Food Guide Pyramid supplies recommended daily allowances from the dairy, meat, fruit and vegetable, and grain and starch food groups. Eating foods from each group provides the vitamins and minerals necessary for a healthy diet. The food pyramid also provides an inventory of serving sizes for foods in each group, which differs from portion sizes. A portion size of pasta, for instance, is consistent with two to three serving sizes.
Fats and Sweets
Fats and sweets, while placed at the top of the Food Guide Pyramid, are not treated as a "food group" and should be used sparingly. Fats -- butter, margarine, gravy salad dressings -- add nine calories per gram to the diet, which is more than twice the calories of all other foods on the food pyramid. Sweets such as sugar and jelly, are empty calories with no nutritional value. Generally, dietary intake should be limited to 22 grams of sugar and 43 grams of fat for a 1,600-calorie diet, and 44 grams of sugars and 73 grams of fat for a 2,200 calorie diet.
Adults and children ages 7 to 12 should include two to three servings from the dairy food group. Serving sizes include 1 cup of skimmed milk or nonfat yoghurt, 42.5gr of natural cheese or 56.7gr of processed cheese, or 1/2 cup of cottage cheese.
Meat, Poultry and Fish, Beans, Eggs And Nuts Group
Adults should eat two to three servings from this food group. Serving sizes for adults are 2 to 3 ounces of lean meat, poultry or fish, 1/2 cup of dry beans, 1 egg, and 2 tbsp of peanut butter. For children ages 7 to 10, the recommended meat intake is 142gr per day of lean meat, and for children 11 to 13, the recommendations are for 5 to 6 ounces of lean meat per day. Other serving sizes for children include 1 egg, 2 tbsp of peanut butter, 1/2 cup of dried beans and 1/3 cup of nuts.
Fruit and Vegetable Group
The recommended intake for adults and children includes three to five servings of vegetables and two to four servings of fruits. Servings include 1 cup of green leafy vegetables for adults and 2 to 3 cups for children ages 7 to 12. Other vegetable servings include 1/2 cup raw, chopped vegetable such as carrots and broccoli, and 3/4 cup vegetable juice for adults and children. Fruit servings comprise 1 medium apple, banana or orange. Chopped, cooked and canned fruits such as cantaloupe have a serving size of 1/2 cup. Other fruit servings include 1/2 grapefruit, 1/4 cup raisins or other dried fruit, and 3/4 cup of 100 per cent fruit juice.
Recommended intake from the starch and fibre group is six to 11 servings for adults, five to six servings for kids ages 7 to 10, and six to seven servings for children 11 to 13. Servings include one bread slice, tortilla, roll or muffin; 1/2 bagel, English muffin, hamburger or hot dog bun; 1/2 cup rice, pasta, cooked cereal or grits; 28.4gr of cold cereal; and one 4-inch diameter pancake or waffle.
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