What Should You Eat?
The New Food Pyramid & Healthy Eating Guidelines

healthy food

The new food pyramid developed by the USDA offered useful advice in recommending that you eat a wide variety of whole foods from the different food groups, especially fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. Though the new USDA graphic, MyPlate, encourages people to follow general healthy eating guidelines, the government, under the influence of the food industries, unfortunately does not tell people much about what not to eat, which is equally important. In addition, the USDA still gives the impression that all fat is bad, especially saturated fats.

There are some startling facts about fats, such as one of the persistent food myths that all saturated fats are bad for you. Saturated fats such as butter and lard can be eaten in moderation if they come from organic sources. Yes, you read that right, some saturated fats can be healthy! Part of the problem with saturated fats today is that they come from feed lot animals raised in unnatural conditions and fed bad diets, both of which affect the final product that we eat.

Look for grass-fed beef. The new food pyramid recommended eating small amounts of meat due to its higher levels of saturated fat. But beef from grass-fed cattle is leaner, lower in fat and calories, while higher in vitamin E, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and antioxidants than beef from cattle raised on a corn diet. It is also lower in saturated fats and higher in omega-3 fats. One study showed eating grass-fed beef helped reduce ”bad” cholesterol and increased ”good” cholesterol. Cattle raised on pasture rather than on corn-based diets also may be less susceptible to contamination with E. coli and other disease-causing bacteria.

In the days before the introduction of hydrogenated oils, saturated fats were eaten in greater amounts, and there was far less heart disease and cancer.

Protein in the form of organic meat and wild caught fish are healthiest. The new food pyramid neglects to mention this healthier alternative. Read the facts about protein to get a better understanding of the amount of protein foods you need and how some protein sources are better for you than others.

The bottom line in our healthy eating guidelines is that it's best to eat organic foods as much as possible, primarily fruits and vegetables, with some whole grains, and include small portions of meat and fish. If it comes in a package be wary, and whatever you eat, be sure the portions are small or at least reasonable. You will be happier and feel more satisfied if you eat a small amount of a food high in “bad” fat, than a large amount of fat-free, supposedly “healthy” food.

Whole foods are better for many reasons. These natural foods have not been reduced, refined, or reassembled and therefore contain the highest nutritional value.

Superfoods

superfoods

In addition to being highly nutritious and healthy foods, superfoods also contain phytochemicals and antioxidants that give an added health bonus to those who consume them. They are usually easy to spot because they are very colorful.

Take berries, for instance. They are high on the list of superfoods due to all the vitamins and antioxidants they contain. You can learn more about berry nutrition at the Sensational Berries web site.

A “superfoods” rainbow of colors to include in your healthy diet plan:

  • Red -- Red tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene, which has been shown to protect against prostate and cervical cancer.
  • Orange/yellow -- Squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, and yams promote healthy skin, vision, and strengthen immunity.
  • Deep green -- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli may help prevent colon cancer, while spinach and collards are good sources of lutein, a nutrient that helps fight against age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older Americans.
  • Deep blue/purple - Eggplant, plums, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, and cherries lower your risk of heart disease by helping the liver remove excess blood cholesterol, as well as improve your mental functioning.

And to go with all these healthy foods, you may want to add a little alcohol, such as red wine. Red wine is especially healthful, as it has been associated with lower rates of coronary heart disease, perhaps due to its antioxidants in the form of flavonoids and nonflavonoids, and resveratrol content. It also reduces damage to blood vessels and lowers levels of “bad” cholesterol. Some research shows that resveratrol could be linked to a reduced risk of inflammation and blood clotting, both of which can lead to heart disease.

As if you haven't already heard this a thousand times, alcohol is only good for you if it is taken in moderation. Moderate drinking is defined as an average of two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women, with a drink defined as 12 ounces (355 ml) of beer, 5 ounces (148 ml) of wine or 1.5 ounces (44 ml) of 80-proof distilled spirits. The higher limit for men is because men generally weigh more and have more of an enzyme that metabolizes alcohol than women do.

Neither the new food pyramid nor MyPlate takes alcohol into account, unfortunately, as it would be helpful for people to know how much alcohol is considered healthy. Now that you know what to eat, lets take a look at portion distortion, or how much you should eat.


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