In an effort to combat growing nutrition confusion and risky fad diets, Nutrition Australia has released a new Healthy Eating Pyramid for the first time in 15 years.
Lucinda Hancock, Executive Officer of Nutrition Australia’s Victorian Division said “The new Pyramid cuts through the misleading information and fad diets that are getting so much attention, and provides Australians with a credible, flexible and realistic guide to eating well.”
“We want to get the message across that for most people the simplest way to eat healthier is to cut down on junk food and sugary drinks and to eat mostly from the core food groups – especially to eat more fruit and vegetables,” said Ms Hancock.
“You don’t need to follow a restrictive diet or cut out entire food groups to eat healthier, because this can also lead to other issues such as yoyo dieting or nutrient deficiencies.”
In order to provide clearer information about how much each specific food group contributes to a balanced diet, the new pyramid separates each layer into the five food groups. Plant-based foods still take up the largest amount of space, with fruit, vegetables and legumes emphasised in the bottom layer, followed by grain foods, then moderate amounts of dairy and protein foods (lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes) and finally small amounts of healthy fats. It also encourages drinking water, limiting salt and added sugar, and to enjoy herbs and spices to flavour foods without using salt.
The previous Pyramid grouped all foods in three layers:
- Eat Most – plant-based foods (fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts and legumes)
- Eat Moderately – dairy foods (and dairy alternatives) and meat (and meat alternatives);
- Eat in small amounts – a small top layer with added fats and sugars
Dr Joanna McMillan appeared on Channel 9’s Today show on Tuesday talking about the new food pyramid. She said:
- Vegetables should be the bulk of every meal, and this is highlighted in the new food pyramid
- Herbs and spices, which are rich in antioxidants and other phytonutrients are now specifically mentioned in the food pyramid
- To make water your main drink
- There is a clear emphasis on whole grains
- Legumes such as beans, lentils and chickpeas are a great source of plant protein, particularly for vegetarians
- If you can’t or don’t want to eat dairy you can have dairy alternatives such as soy products or almond milk
- Extra virgin olive oil is emphasized in the healthy fats section
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