Vivian Liu , HK BioTek Intern
The food pyramid is well-known, presenting the composition of balanced diet in a pyramid form based on the daily intake. However, it could be hard to count the number of bowls of rice or pieces of tofu consumed. Also, the food pyramid stresses the need for meat and eggs as protein source, while ignoring the need of vegans. Owing to such inconvenience, there is a new concept of balanced diet by grouping the dietary intake on a plate, namely “ChooseMyPlate”, an interactive diet planning tool based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
On the plate, it is divided into 4 parts:
1. 20% of protein
Protein source can be found from seafood, poultry, eggs, beans, nuts, soy products, etc. A variety of protein foods are required to improve the nutrient intake (a variety of amino acids), including 8 ounces of cooked seafood per week. For example, 1 salmon steak equals 4-6 ounces.
2. 30% of whole grains, legumes and starchy vegetables
Whole grains like oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice and products made from whole-wheat flour contain the entire grain kernel. It keeps the dietary fiber compared to the refined grains like white rice and bread which should be limited. Starchy vegetables would include beans, lentils, sweet potatoes and acorn squash.
3. 40% of non-starchy vegetables
Apart from the vegetables themselves like leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, peppers or cabbage, 100% vegetable juice will also be counted as vegetable group. On the other hand, they can be classified according to the nutrient content like dark green, red and orange etc. Vegetables with different colours provide different types of vitamins and thus such variety of intake is necessary.
4. 10% of fruits
For fruits, whole fruits would be more preferred as intake from juice would reduce the fiber intake, but increase the fructose intake as it requires much more fruits to make a cup of juice. Fruit is also a great choice for snacks or dessert.
Apart from the plate, there is also a cup for dairy group. A serving of dairy group would be 1 cup of low/non-fat milk (or plant-based milk) or yogurt with less than 15g of sugar per serving. It is recommended that people should consume 3 cups of dairy daily (2-2.5 cups for children). However, any dairy products with low calcium but high fat like cream cheese, sour cream and butter would not be counted.
Harbolic, B. S. (2020). MyPlate vs. Food Pyramid. MedicineNet. Retrieved from https://www.medicinenet.com/myplate/article.htm
Novas, C. (n.d.) MyPlate: A New Alternative to the Food Pyramid. National Center for Health Research. Retrieved from https://www.center4research.org/myplate-new-alternative-food-pyramid/#:~:text=%E2%80%9CMyPlate%E2%80%9D%20replaces%20the%20familiar%20%E2%80%9C,dairy)%20in%20a%20place%20setting.