Understanding the New Food Pyramid

Important Changes in Recommended Diet

Change is inevitable. When the change is based on sound scientific findings is it easier to embrace? Take the new food pyramid rolled out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture earlier this year. This group should be revered for trying to make it clearer to the public the healthiest way to balance their diet. With startling statistics on obesity and heart conditions due to poor diet and nutrition, the need for reform is critical. The new food pyramid guide makes new actionable recommendations and shifts intake percentages in key categories. Also of note is the addition of exercise as another portion of the new food pyramid.

Less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars. This does not include naturally occurring sugars such as those consumed as part of milk and fruits.
Less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats. The Nutrition Facts label can be used to check for saturated fats.
Less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium for people over the age of 14 years and less for those younger. The Nutrition Facts label is a helpful tool to check for sodium.

Understanding the New Food Pyramid

The Guidelines

Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. All food and beverage choices matter. Choose a healthy eating pattern at an appropriate calorie level to help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, support nutrient adequacy, and reduce the risk of chronic disease.

Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount. To meet nutrient needs within calorie limits, choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods across and within all food groups in recommended amounts.

Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake. Consume an eating pattern low in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. Cut back on foods and beverages higher in these components to amounts that fit within healthy eating patterns.

Shift to healthier food and beverage choices. Choose nutrient-dense foods and beverages across and within all food groups in place of less healthy choices. Consider cultural and personal preferences to make these shifts easier to accomplish and maintain.

Support healthy eating patterns for all. Everyone has a role in helping to create and support healthy eating patterns in multiple settings nationwide, from home to school to work to communities.

-2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

2016 Buckman Portland Farmers Market

TREND: The Mediterranean Diet

SUMMARY: The Mediterranean diet emphasizes: Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. Replacing butter with healthy fats, such as olive oil. Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods.


The Healthy Mediterranean-Style Pattern is adapted from the Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern, modifying amounts recommended from some food groups to more closely reflect eating patterns that have been associated with positive health outcomes in studies of Mediterranean-Style diets. Food group intakes from the studies that provided quantified data were compared to amounts in the Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern and adjustments were made to better reflect intakes of groups with Mediterranean-Style diets. The healthfulness of the Pattern was evaluated based on its similarity to food group intakes reported for groups with positive health outcomes in these studies rather than on meeting specified nutrient standards.

The Healthy Mediterranean-Style Pattern contains more fruits and seafood and less dairy than does the Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern. The changes in these amounts were limited to calorie levels appropriate for adults, because children were not part of the studies used in modifying the Pattern. The amounts of oils in the Pattern were not adjusted because the Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern already contains amounts of oils that are similar to amounts associated with positive health outcomes in the studies, and higher than typical intakes in the United States. Similarly, amounts of meat and poultry in the Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern are less than typical intakes in the United States and also similar to amounts associated with positive health outcomes in the studies. While not evaluated on nutrient-adequacy standards, nutrient levels in the Pattern were assessed. The Pattern is similar to the Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern in nutrient content, with the exception of calcium and vitamin D. Levels of calcium and vitamin D in the Pattern are lower because less dairy is included for adults.

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