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USDA Updates Food Pyramid


USDA Updates Food Pyramid

WASHINGTONThe U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) unveiled its updated food pyramid, designed to better reflect the agencys renovated dietary guidelines and emphasizes the need for an individualized approach to diet and lifestyle. The new design, which replaces the Food Guide Pyramid introduced in 1992, is called My Pyramid and features the new slogan, Steps to a Healthier You. It follows The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (www.healthierus.gov/dietaryguidelines), which USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released in January this year.

The new symbol features a basic pyramid divided into six vertical sections, each of which has with its own bright color representing a specific category of foods. The width of each colored section signifies its general percentage of the overall diet, with wider sections for healthier foods suggested for higher intake. The wider sections represent fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods, while meats, fats, oils and sugars have narrower sections. The importance of physical exercise is demonstrated by a person climbing steps toward the top of the left side of the pyramid.

My Pyramid will be supported by a Web site, www.mypyramid.gov, where consumers can find detailed information on the foods in each category, in addition to suggestions on physical activity and a worksheet to help track diet and exercise. The site provides indepth information on recommended daily amounts in common measurement units, such as cups and ounces, featuring examples and tips. Consumers can also enter age, gender and activity level to receive an estimate on the types and amounts of foods they should incorporate into their diets. The My Pyramid Tracker will compare a consumers diet and activity to current nutritional guidelines, delivering relevant messages tailored to the consumers weight management goals. A childfriendly version of the site is being developed to help teachers and parents guide children aged 6 to 11 on smart eating and exercise choices.

My pyramid is about the ability of Americans to personalize their approach when choosing a healthier lifestyle that balances nutrition and exercise, said Mike Johanns, agriculture secretary. Many Americans can dramatically improve their overall health by making modest improvements to their diets and by incorporating regular physical activity into their daily lives.

Greg Paul, Ph.D., director of foods and beverages for The Solae Company, said soy protein-containing foods can help Americans meet many of the recommendations in the new My Pyramid food guidance system. Soy protein, unlike other sources of protein, is not only low in fat, but is also cholesterolfree, he said. Scientific research also indicates that protein provides greater satiety than fat or carbohydrates, which can certainly aid in weight management issues.

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