Check out the
Healthy Food Pyramid

The new Healthy Food Pyramid was developed by the Harvard School of Public Health in the United States (thanks guys!). It is based on current science and research and refreshingly is not biased towards any business or organisation that may have a stake in its recommendations!

Check it out. I love it because it's pretty clear as to what are the better things to eat and in roughly what proportions.

As you can see, the foundation to good health is exercise and weight control.

From there we climb up the pyramid from what you need to eat most of to least of.

Their book Eat, Drink and Be Healthy is also a fantastic read.

Fruit and Vegetables and Wholegains are very wise healthy choices and should make up the majority of your diet, whereas Refined grains, Sugar and Red meat are at the pointy end(!) of the scale, and should only make up a very small section of your overall diet.

(Don't have too close a look at the picture to the left though, as I don't recommend croissants and bagels!).

Check out some great sources of wholegrains, and the very best ones for all the best vitamins and minerals!

Whole grains are one of the best sources of Carbohydrate. Wholegrains include brown rice, wholemeal flour and oats. By leaving the outer husk intact, these grains have greater amounts of nutrients and fibre than more highly refined versions such as white flour and rice. This allows for optimal gradual increase in blood sugars helping to reduce the risk of Diabetes and Syndrome X. They also keep you feeling fuller for longer, thereby also helping us in our quest (at least most of us!) to reduce our overall food intake.

Fruit and Vegetables - as we all know - are crucial foods for optimal health. In fact eating vegetarian is more beneficial than eating a meat based diet. Vegetables are an extremely important part of the healthy food pyramid as they provide essential vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and fibre. People who eat greater amounts of fruit and vegetables have been shown to suffer from reduced rates of a number of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, vision loss, some cancers and stroke. There's just no way around it - you can't do without 'em!

Fats and Oils Oils ain't Oils

Sorry, I just couldn't help myself...(!)

Anyhow, on to the more serious stuff...

It's pretty common knowledge now that all fats and oils can't be lumped into the "never to be eaten" category. There are some that are hughly beneficial to our health and this is why they are highly recommended in the new healthy food pyramid. These are known as Unsaturated Oils and Fats and include omega 3s, 6s and 9s.

These oils decrease cholesterol levels and protect your heart. They are also good for lubricating those joints! You need to consume avocados, vegetetable oils (eg olive, canola, sunflower), nuts, seeds, fatty fish such as salmon to obtain optimal levels of these wonder fats.

Fish, Poultry and Eggs

The foods provide optimal sources of protein and essential fatty acids. Eggs have historically been a bit maligned but they are a great source of protein and essential fatty acids - hence their importance in the healthy food pyramid,

Nuts, Seeds and Beans These foods are a particularly fantastic way to get your intake of protein, minerals/vitamins and fibre. Nuts and also especially great for those essential fatty acids we mentioned up the page.

Beans include garbanzos (chick peas), lima beans, black beans, lentils etc and you can usually find these tinned or dried. Beans are especially great sources of fibre.

Dairy Foods and Vitamin D

Calcium and Vitamin D are essential for strong bones and healthy teeth. Calcium also prevents cardiovascular disease, lowers cholesterol and maintains a regular heart beat.

It is a myth that you need to drink milk and eat cheese to fulfill your calcium requirements. These are actually some of the poorer choices because of their saturated fat content - but the dairy industry don't like you to believe this of course...

Low fat yoghurt, soy milk, tinned salmon & sardines (with bones), almonds, dk green leafy vegetables and more all contain fantastic amounts of Calcium. Vitamin D is found in fish liver oil, eggs, oats and vegetable oils.

I think we all know the foods that inhabit the tip of the pyramid!... Yes, those containing lots of saturated fat, salt, sugar etc etc! You know what we're on about here. These kind of foods not only take up valuable stomach space - thereby leaving no room for nutritious food choices - but they can cause all sorts of health problems. These include heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke etc etc.

Read more about eating habits that may cause diabetes here

White rice, bread and pasta is also up here, which may be new to you. This is because these refined grains contain deprived levels of vital nutrients & fibre and tend to cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels which I talk more about here

Last of all to mention in regard to this fantastic pyramid, is and multi-vitamin/mineral use.

I think we've all heard about the research that a small amount of wine (preferably red) can be beneficial... no more comment from me there...

In regards to taking a multi vitamin/mineral supplement, I personally believe that most people would benefit from this...that is unless you eat the majority of your food from your vegetable & fruit garden (grown in fertile, well-balanced soil); you drink purified water; have no possibility of any heavy metal contamination; have extremely well controlled stress levels and breathe pristine air then perhaps you really don't need to bother with any additional supplementation!

Otherwise perhaps you are like the majority of us and you buy a heap of fruit and veges in bulk from the supermarket. Food which through intensive faming is already deprived of nutrients by the time it arrives on the vege shelves. You then leave it in the crisper for up to a week, cook it in less than perfect ways (if they even make it out of the crisper) and then eat them. Most of us also have a bit of stress in our lives, and breathe in polluted air at times.

You might be getting where I'm coming from, but anyhow more about supplemention later.

If you are interested in herbs, check out the herb guide website for growing, eating and everything else to do with herbs!

Rightio, I hope you were as excited by my overview of the Harvard School of Public Health's Updated Healthy Eating Pyramid as much as I was when I found it!!

Woo Hoo!

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