The Food Pyramid

The food pyramid gives a good idea of how our daily food intake should be balanced. Understanding the food pyramid can help you keep your diet varied and interesting, while at the same time remaining healthy.

The bottom row is the carbohydrate group, with food that supplies us with energy in the form of glucose. This includes cereal, bread, potatoes, pasta, rice and grains. This is the largest group and six or more portions are recommended each day (up to twelve portions if you are very active). Wholegrains should be chosen where possible.

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These foods are a good source of fibre and complex carbohydrates. Wholegrains are also a good source of vitamins and minerals, which are beneficial for maintaining a healthy blood pressure level and heart health. These include selenium, zinc, magnesium, iron, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine and Vitamin E.

As an example, brown rice has the same fat, protein and calories as white rice but also has additional fibre, calcium, iron, zinc and folic acid as well as Vitamins Bl, B2 and B6. It can help normalise blood sugar and is thought to be particularly good for the bowel, perhaps helping to lower the risk of bowel cancer. It can also lower blood cholesterol levels.

Ground flaxseed is an excellent way to add wholegrain to your diet. These small brown seeds can be crushed or ground in a food processor or coffee maker and added to food, e.g. a teaspoonful in hot cereal or yogurt. Flax seeds are high in fibre and also in omega-3.

Simple ways to increase the amount of wholegrains in your diet are shown below.

  • Fruit and vegetables make up the second largest group in the food pyramid and it is recommended that we eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables per day. We should all eat more fresh fruit and vegetables. However, many Irish men fall short on this one. Fruit and vegetables are excellent for your health for a number of reasons. Firstly, they are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals and are naturally Viagra Jelly in Australia low in calories. Secondly, they are high in soluble fibre, which can lower cholesterol and help prevent heart disease. Thirdly, fresh fruit and vegetables are very rich in antioxidants, which can help prevent heart disease and cancer. Berries are a particularly rich natural source of antioxidants, especially blueberries. Broccoli is a rich vegetable source of antioxidants and as such is called a ‘superfood’. Fourthly, they can be quite filling, which means less space for high-fat foods. The key with fruit and vegetables is to eat them often, ideally with every meal. Keeping fresh fruit in a bowl in the kitchen or freshly chopped carrots or broccoli in the fridge makes a healthy snack readily available. The only fruit and vegetables to avoid would be vegetables in creamy sauces, fried vegetables in batter and canned fruit with heavy sweet syrup. Otherwise, for fruit and veg the sky’s the limit.
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