Page Created: 30 July 2006; 9 May 2009
Last Updated: 24 January 2012
Food Pyramids, Food Plates, and Other Dietary Models
Cultural Modeling of Dietary Guidelines
Selected Examples, Notes and References
Each of the dietary models presented on this page is fully cited, with a brief introduction or backgrounder excerpted from the source; additional links and PDFs have been added to the excerpted content
in most cases. Visual representations such as these serve as conceptual and mnemonic devices to help educate consumers, enabling them to make better informed dietary choices. Models of dietary
guides abound online. We have selected only a few for consideration here, but our list continues to grow as we encounter innovative presentations.
The United States Department of Agriculture has archived MyPyramid
, the previous food guidance system that featured dietary recommendations which the Harvard School of Public Health
) and many public health authorities (see Oldways
) criticized as "based on out-of-date science and influenced by [...]
business interests". The newly launched USDA offering is called MyPlate
), and while it's an
improvement over MyPyramid, it doesn't go far enough in the opinion of many.
MyPlate is part of a larger communications initiative based on 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans to help consumers make better food choices.
MyPlate is designed to remind Americans to eat healthfully; it is not intended to change consumer behavior alone.
MyPlate illustrates the five food groups using a familiar mealtime visual, a place setting.
The website features practical information and tips to help Americans build healthier diets.
It features selected messages to help consumer focus on key behaviors. Selected messages include:
- Balancing Calories
- Enjoy your food, but eat less.
- Avoid oversized portions.
- Foods to Increase
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
- Make at least half your grains whole grains.
- Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
- Foods to Reduce
- Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals—and choose foods with lower numbers.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
ChooseMyPlate.gov includes much of the consumer and professional information formerly found on MyPyramid.gov.
Harvard School of Public Health
The pyramid model of food choices has been around for a long time, but as we read at the
Harvard School of Public Health
, "[w]hen it's time for dinner, most of us eat off of a plate",
so the new visual is the Healthy Eating Plate
, launched in September 2011
A picture is worth a thousand words, and that's why nutritionists use symbols and shapes to answer the question, “What should I eat?” For nearly two decades, the U.S. government distilled its nutrition advice into
pyramids. These efforts didn't accurately show people what makes up a healthy diet. Why? Their recommendations were based on out-of-date science and influenced by people with business interests in the messages the
icons sent. This year, the U.S. government scrapped its MyPyramid icon in favor of the fruit-and-vegetable rich MyPlate —
an improvement, yet one that still doesn't go far enough to show people how to make the healthiest choices.
[...] The Healthy Eating Pyramid is a simple, trustworthy guide to choosing a healthy diet. Its foundation is
daily exercise and
weight control, since these two related elements strongly influence your chances of staying
healthy. The Healthy Eating Pyramid builds from there, showing that you should eat more foods from the bottom part of the pyramid
whole grains) and
less from the top (red meat, refined grains, potatoes, sugary drinks, and
There are better alternatives: the new Healthy Eating Plate and
the Healthy Eating Pyramid, both built by faculty members
in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, in conjunction with colleagues at Harvard Health Publications. The Healthy Eating Plate fixes the flaws in USDA's
MyPlate, just as the Healthy Eating Pyramid rectifies the mistakes of the USDA's food pyramids. Both the Healthy Eating Plate and the Healthy Eating Pyramid are based on the latest science
about how our food, drink, and activity choices affect our health — and are unaffected by businesses and organizations with a stake in their messages.
When it's time for dinner, most of us eat off of a plate. So think of the new Healthy Eating Plate as blueprint for a typical meal: Fill half your plate with produce—colorful
vegetables, the more varied the better, and
fruits. (Remember, potatoes and French fries don't count as vegetables!)
Save a quarter of your plate for whole grains. A healthy
source of protein, such as fish, poultry, beans, or nuts, can make up the rest. The
glass bottle is a reminder to use healthy oils, like
olive and canola, in cooking, on salad, and at the table. Complete your meal with a cup of water,
or if you like, tea or coffee with little or no sugar (not the
milk or other dairy products that
the USDA's MyPlate recommends; limit milk/dairy products to one to two servings per day). And that figure scampering across the bottom of the placemat? It's your reminder that
staying active is half of the secret to weight control. The other half is eating a
healthy diet with modest portions that meet your calorie needs—so be sure you choose a plate that is not too large. [...]
Health Canada's Food Guide
Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide
is designed to help you and your family know how much food you need, what types of
foods are better for you, and the importance of physical activity in your
Having the amount and type of food recommended and following the tips included in Canada's Food Guide will help:
Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide
- Meet your needs for vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.
- Reduce your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain types
of cancer and osteoporosis.
- Contribute to your overall health and vitality.
UK The eatwell plate
The eatwell plate shows the different types of food we need to eat – and in what proportions – to have a well balanced and healthy diet.
It's a good idea to try to get this balance right every day, but you don't need to do it at every meal. And you might find it easier to get the balance right over a longer period, say a week.
Eating healthily is about about eating the right amount of food for your energy needs. In England, most adults are either overweight or obese. This means many of us are eating more than we need, and should eat and drink fewer calories in order to lose weight.
Based on the eatwell plate, you should try to eat:
Try to choose options that are lower in salt when you can.
More on salt
Is the eatwell plate for me?
The eatwell plate applies to most people – whether they're a healthy weight or overweight, whether they eat meat or are vegetarian, and no matter what their ethnic origin.
However, it doesn't apply to children under the age of two because they have different nutritional needs. Between the ages of two and five, children should gradually move to eating the same
foods as the rest of the family, in the proportions shown on the eatwell plate. Find out more in Feeding your baby and
Weaning and beyond in the Birth to five guide.
Anyone with special dietary requirements or medical needs might want to check with a registered dietitian whether the eatwell plate applies to them. [...]
The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating [Consumer Booklet, 1998], the national food selection guide, provides consumers,
health and education professionals and the food industry with information about the amounts and types of food that need to be eaten each day to get enough of the nutrients essential for good
health and well-being. The Guide is designed to suit most healthy people but may not be appropriate for people with certain health problems. If you want advice that is individualised just
for you, you should see a dietitian.
A diet consistent with the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends people consume a variety of foods across
and within the five food groups and avoid foods that contain too much added fat, salt and sugar. The Guide aims to promote healthy eating habits throughout life, which will assist in reducing the risk of
heath problems in later life, such as heart disease, obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.
The Guide aims to encourage the consumption of a variety of foods from each of the five food groups every day in proportions that are consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Australians. The five foods groups are:
- Bread, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles
- Vegetables, legumes
- Milk, yoghurt, cheese
- Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, legumes.
Review of the Dietary Guidelines 2010/2012
We have reviewed the Dietary Guidelines to make sure that they are up-to-date and reflect the latest knowledge on nutrition, diet and health. A draft of the Dietary Guidelines has now been produced and is out for public
comment. This revision of the Dietary Guidelines has focused on food choice recommendations rather than on how much of certain nutrients you should consume, which was the approach of the 2003 version of the Dietary
Guidelines. To produce the draft Dietary Guidelines, NHMRC has reviewed the following:
EUFIC European Food Information Council
The majority of European countries have some form of FBDG. The guidelines are listed in Table 1 with information on their format and the advice covered. Nearly all guidelines include advice about foods containing fat, foods containing sugar and the consumption of fruits and vegetables. They also often contain advice on eating protein-containing foods, foods rich in carbohydrates and dietary fibre, restricting salt, taking enough fluids, controlling alcohol intake and body weight, and other aspects of lifestyle such as getting enough physical activity and eating regular meals. Occasionally they have advice on food hygiene.
Some countries, for example Italy and Denmark, have a list of food-based messages [...] while others present their FBDG in different graphic formats. [...]
|Table 1. European Food-Based Dietary Guidelines|
* Food groups include: milk and milk products; meat, fish, eggs and alternatives;
fruits and vegetables; cereals, fats and sugary foods.
|Country||Graphic format||No. of food groups* (graphic models) or food messages||Supportive information||Fluid, salt, specific micronutrients||Lifestyle|
|Albania||Pyramid||6 groups||Quantitative information for each group||Advice on lower salt intake||Advice on varied diet, healthy BMI and alcohol intake|
|Austria||Pyramid||6 groups||Qualitative and/or quantitative information for each group; not part of the model||Drinks are 6th group at the base of the pyramid||Additional tips o, weight and alcohol|
|Belgium||Pyramid||8 groups||Quantitative information for each group; part of the model. Booklet provides further information on healthy eating.||Drinks are 8th group at the base of the pyramid||Physical activity in the base of the pyramid, below drinks|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||None||||Qualitative and quantitative information for the food groups||Advice on lower salt intake||Advice on varied diet, weight (BMI), physical activity and alcohol|
|Bulgaria||Pyramid (and leaflet)||6 groups (+fluids and physical activity)||Qualitative and quantitative information for each group. Additional leaflets.||Advice on salt and fluids||Advice on varied diet, weight (BMI), physical activity and alcohol|
|Croatia||Pyramid||4 groups||Qualitative and quantitative information for each group||Advice on salt||Advice on varied diet, weight (BMI), physical activity and alcohol|
|Czech Republic||Pyramid||6 groups||Qualitative and quantitative information for each group||Advice on salt||Advice on varied diet, weight (BMI), physical activity and alcohol|
|Denmark||Compass||8 diet tips||Further documentation gives additional information on healthy eating||Advice on water||Advice on varied diet, weight and physical activity|
|Estonia||Pyramid||5 groups||Separate qualitative and quantitative information||||Advice on varied diet, weight and alcohol|
|Finland||Circle, pyramid and plate||6 groups in circle and pyramid. 3 sections in plate (meal only)||Background document|||||
|France||Tabulated list||7 groups||Qualitative and/or quantitative information for each group in table||Drinks are 7th group|
Salt is 8th point in the table
|Advice on physical activity|
|Germany||Three dimensional pyramid||4 groups||Qualitative information for each group; not part of the model||Drinks constitute one group|||
|Greece||Pyramid||12 groups||Some qualitative and quantitative information given as part of the graphic||Advice on water and salt||Advice on alcohol (wine in moderation) and physical activity|
Advice on regular meals
|Hungary||House||5 groups||Qualitative and quantitative information goven in text separate from graphic||Salt, water mentioned in supportive text||Advice on alcohol, body weight, exercise, food safety, labelling, regular meals and snacks mentioned in supportive text|
|Ireland||Pyramid (for children)||5 groups||Adult version provides qualitative and quantitative information for each group.|
Number of portions.
|Fluid and folic acid mentioned in supporting text. Advice on salt intake mentioned in additional tips.||Advice on weight, exercise and alcohol|
|Italy||None||8 guidelines||Qualitative and quantitative information given for each guideline||One guideline for fluid and one for salt||Advice on weight and physical activity|
|Latvia||Food pyramid||4 groups (+water at the bottom of the pyramid)||Qualitative and quantitative information for each group; not part of the model. Percentages on the side of pyramid provides information on how large a part of your daily intake this food group should constitute.||Advice on salt and fluids||Advice on varied diet, weight (BMI), balance food with physical activity and alcohol|
|Lithuania||Food pyramid||||||Advice on salt||Advice on varied diet, weight, physical activity (not quantified) and alcohol|
|Netherlands||Wheel||5 groups||In separate text and on additional web pages||Mentioned in supporting information||Mentioned in supportive information|
|Poland||Pyramid||5 groups||10 principles of healthy nutrition in some formats||Water represented outside the pyramid in some formats. Salt included in the 10 principles.||Advice on weight and alcohol mentioned in the 10 principles|
|Portugal||Circle||7 groups||||Water at centre of circle|||
|Romania||Food pyramid||6 groups (+ fluid and physical activity at the bottom of the pyramid)||Qualitative and quantitative information; part of the model||Water represented in the pyramid||Advice on varied diet and alcohol|
|Serbia||No FBDG||No FBDG||No FBDG||No FBDG||No FBDG|
|Slovakia||Visual to be discussed in 2009||No information, since graphic is not decided upon||12 main nutrition and lifestyle messages||Advice on salt and fluids||Advice on varied diet and alcohol|
|Slovenia||Food pyramid||7 groups + physical activity||Qualitative and quantitative information for each group||Advice on salt||Advice on varied diet, weight (BMI), physical activity and alcohol|
|Spain||Pyramid||7 groups||Quantitative and some qualitative for each group; additional part of the model||Fluid additional part of graphic||Advice on alcohol (wine) and physical activity in additional part of graphic|
|Sweden||Circle and plate||7 groups in circle and 3 on plate (meal only)||Information in separate text and on additional web pages||Fluid and salt mentioned in supportive text||Advice on alcohol and physical activity in supportive text|
|Switzerland||Pyramid||6 groups||Qualitative and quantitative information for each group; part of separate text||Fluid 6th group at the base of the pyramid||Advice on physical activity is additional part of graphic|
|Turkey||Circle||4 groups||Information in comprehensive booklet on healthy eating||Mentioned in booklet||Advice on physical activityand weight included in booklet|
|United Kingdom||Circle (plate)||5 groups||Semi-quantitative information for each group; part of separate text. Qualitative and quantitative information available in additional web pages.|
Salt mentioned in supportive information. Fluid and salt in a separate 8 tips-list.
|Advice on physical activity, body weight and breakfast in a separate 8 tips-list|
|Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia||No FBDG||No FBDG||No FBDG||No FBDG||No FBDG|
|WHO, CINDI||Pyramid||4 groups||Green, orange and red background colour helps to indicate relative importance of each group in the model||Salt included in separate 12 steps to healthy eating||Advice on weight, physical activity and alcohol included in the 12 steps|
Germany The three-dimensional food pyramid
Germany uses a three-dimensional pyramid that provides qualitative (nutritional role of the food) as well as quantitative (how much of this food relative to others) advice on food consumption.
The four sides of the pyramid are dedicated to the following food groups:
- Foods primarily of plant origin; criteria for grouping at the base, middle or top of the pyramid being calorie density, nutrient density (vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fibre); preventive aspects
(cancer, heart disease).
- Foods primarily of animal origin; criteria for grouping at the base, middle or top of the pyramid being calorie density, nutrient density (e.g., calcium, iron, zinc, selenium, B vitamins, vitamin D);
fat quality (saturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids).
- Dietary fats and oils; positioning criteria for fats being: fatty acid composition omega-3, omega-6, omega-9 fatty acids, saturated fats, ratio of omega-6:omega-3 fatty acids); vitamin E; cholesterol;
trans fats; application in cooking; criteria for oils: ratio of omega-6:omega-3 fatty acids; vitamin E content.
- Beverages; positioning criteria being: calorific value (moderate: < 7 % carbohydrates, high: > 7 % carbohydrates); essential nutrients; phytonutrients; stimulants; sweeteners.
The colours on the left of each of the four sides of the German pyramid are traffic lights that indicate the nutritional value of the foods and thereby give advice on the amounts to be consumed. The traffic
lights apply to foods within the same food group.
The bottom of the 3D pyramid depicts a circle indicating the relative proportions of each group in the diet. For this, the plant-based foods are divided into ‘fruits and vegetables’ and ‘cereals’ and are given
a much larger proportion of the circle than the animal-based foods. Fats are reduced to a very small proportion of the whole and water fills the centre.
click to enlarge
Spain La nueva Rueda de los Alimentos
Se ha desarrollado una “Nueva rueda de los alimentos” cuyas diferencias frente a la tradicional rueda son:
- Los Grupos de alimentos.
Eran tradicionalmente siete, convirtiéndose en esta versión en seis Grupos:
- Energético (composición predominante en hidratos de carbono: productos derivados de los cereales, patatas, azúcar)
- Energético (composición predominante en lípidos: mantequilla, aceites y grasas en general)
- Plásticos (composición predominante en proteínas: productos de origen lácteo)
- Plásticos (composición predominante en proteínas: cárnicos, huevos y pescados, legumbres y frutos secos)
- Reguladores (hortalizas y verduras)
- Reguladores (frutas)
Incluye, además, mención explícita al ejercicio físico y a la necesidad de ingerir agua en cantidades suficientes.
China Guide on Diet for Chinese People
The new edition of "Guide on Diet for Chinese People" released in January 2008 recommends a Chinese food pagoda for a balanced diet.
According to the guide, there are five levels in the food pagoda, indicating the different levels of importance and the amount we need in daily diet.
Grains, potatoes, beans and water are the fundament. An adult need 250-400 grams of grains, potatoes and beans and 1,200ml water every day.
Vegetables and fruits are the second important, with a daily demand of 300-500 grams of vegetables and 200-400 grams of fruits. Meat, fish, shrimp and eggs take the third - 50-75 grams of meat,
50-100 grams of fish and shrimps, 25-50 grams of eggs for every day.
Then comes the demand of 300 grams of dairy products and 30-50 grams of nuts and soybean products. Oil and salt are at the top with the least demand of 25-30 grams and 6 grams respectively for each day.
The guide also suggests dark-color vegetables take half of the vegetable intake every day as they are rich in carotene and vitamin A.
What the pagoda suggests is an average intake of different foods. It will definitely be helpful if all the categories are included in the diet every day, but not necessarily the exact same portion
mentioned. As long as the average amount meets the requirement, it is a balanced diet good for health.
China promulgated her first food based dietary guidelines (FBDGs) in 1989. It was proposed by the standing board of Chinese Nutrition Society. The guidelines consisted of 8 items, each
followed by a paragraph of explanation words. The second FBDGs came out in 1997, was expanded to include 3 parts i.e. guide lines for general population, for 7 particular population groups (infants,
toddlers and preschool children, school-age children, adolescents, pregnant women, lactating mothers and the aged) and a newly formed food guide pagoda (FGP). The last version of the Chinese FBDGs
was compelled by Chinese Nutrition Society in 2007, and proclaimed by the Ministry of Health in early 2008. The new guidelines kept the skeleton of three parts, but expanded remarkably in volume and
coverage. The guidelines for the general population consisted of 10 items, each containing: core information, a discussion and reference materials. The guidelines for particular groups contained more
subgroups, and more detailed recommendations. The revised pagoda kept the previous food grouping and placement but altered the amount of some food groups. An image of a walker and a cup of water were
added to the side of the pagoda. Guidelines-2007 called for more coarse grains and less cooking oil consumption. Physical activity is also strongly recommended.
Japan The Food Guide Spinning Top
Diet Pyramids developed by OLDWAYS
The pioneering and collaborative work of Oldways in the development traditional food pyramids merits special attention. Food enthusiast and advocate K. Dun Gifford started a non-profit educational organization called Oldways in 1990, to combat the rising prevalence of "pseudo foods" on the market and the threatening tsunami of chronic
diseases propelled in part by our poor eating habits. To help everyone, everywhere, live longer and healthier lives, Oldways promotes healthy eating and drinking with programs that help consumers improve their
food and drink choices, encourage traditional sustainable food choices, and promote enjoyment of the pleasures of the table. Oldways' programs
range from championing unique culinary initiatives to promoting broad-reaching nutrition education efforts, raising awareness of the vital need to preserve traditional diets.
If you would like to order any of the Oldways Diet Pyramids presented below,
visit the Oldways webstore
Oldways has been the principal promoter of the benefits of traditional diets and health through heritage since the early 1990s, most notably with the
Traditional Mediterranean Diet Pyramid. In 1992, the US Department of Agriculture released
its first Food Guide Pyramid, to help improve Americans' health by offering visual guidelines for eating a balanced diet.
While a visual approach was a strong step in the right direction, many public health authorities (and Oldways) expressed deep concern over several of the
original USDA pyramid’s premises, including these:
- All fats are equal and should be consumed in minimal amounts.
- All carbohydrates are equal and should be consumed in large amounts.
- All protein sources are alike.
- The pyramid's lack of guidance for alcohol intake and exercise recommendation.
At the 1993 International Conference on the Mediterranean Diet in Cambridge, MA., Oldways, the Harvard School of Public Health, and the European Office of the World Health Organization
(WHO) [see excerpt below: Cultural modelling: a new basis for education of the public.] introduced the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid as an alternative to the USDA pyramid. The Mediterranean Diet
Pyramid differed from the USDA pyramid in these significant ways:
It emphasized the importance of types of fat, not just quantity of fat, in dietary guidelines, encouraging consumption of unsaturated fats – "healthy fats" found in fish and in plant sources
such as nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, and other plant sources – while limiting saturated fats, found mostly in animal products.
It differentiated between plant protein (such as that from nuts and legumes) and protein from animal sources, and urged a reduction in consumption of red and processed meat.
It added basic guidelines for alcohol consumption, water intake, and physical exercise.
Cultural modelling: a new basis for education of the public
In 1992, the joint FAO/WHO International Conference on Nutrition adopted a World Declaration on Nutrition and a Plan of Action for Nutrition:*
a very detailed and elaborate document, laying down the principles for the work their Member States wish to see the two organizations undertake, as
well as the work they themselves pledge to undertake, in the area of nutrition. It places great emphasis on informing and educating the public about
nutrition. In its 22 pages, the document mentions this issue no fewer than 66 times.
At the same time, disturbing proof is emerging of what many nutritionists have long suspected. Nutrition education in its traditional form, such as dietary
guidelines for the public, are – with some notable exceptions – poorly understood and not easily acted on.
A new approach to communicating nutritional messages is clearly called for. This is why the WHO Regional Office for Europe has joined Oldways Preservation & Exchange
Trust and the FAO/WHO collaborating centre for nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health in exploring the possibilities of so-called cultural modelling, whereby
dietary advice is based on known food patterns in populations enjoying above-average health. The dietary guidelines summarized in the traditional healthy
Mediterranean diet pyramid (Fig. 1) are an example of such cultural modelling. They are fundamentally different from other guidelines currently in circulation. This
continuing experiment in new ways of developing dietary guidelines also invokes the active partnership of a number of distinguished cooks, scientists, food producers
The working hypothesis is that, rather than trying to construct theoretical dietary guidelines, the process could be turned around. The starting point for the
process of developing guidelines would thus be the outcome of natural experiments, involving different dietary patterns, that lead to more or less healthy
populations. The first step would be to search globally in time and space for exceptionally healthy populations. If such populations could be properly identified,
the next step would be to use all available means – research into dietary patterns, health, culture, history and culinary tradition – to get to know as much as
possible about the diets and lifestyles of those populations. This should result in a larger body of knowledge, over longer periods time and with a larger number
of subjects, than any intervention study would have been able to generate. The resulting dietary guidelines should then combine contemporary culinary wisdom, modern
culture and nutritional science in its clinical, biological and epidemiological aspects. [...]
* World Declaration on Nutrition. Plan of Action for Nutrition.
Geneva, World Health Organization, 1993 (document WHO/NUT/93.2).
In 1995, Oldways introduced its second pyramid, the Asian Diet Pyramid, at its International Conference on the Diets of Asia in San Francisco. This conference was a
collaboration among Oldways; the Cornell-China-Oxford Project on Nutrition, Health and Environment based at Cornell University; and the Harvard School of Public Health. [...]
Oldways introduced the Latin American Diet Pyramid in 1996 at the Latin American Diet Conference in El Paso, TX. This conference was a collaboration between Oldways and the
Harvard School of Public Health. [...]
In 1997, Oldways introduced the Vegetarian Diet Pyramid at the International Conference on the Vegetarian Diet in Austin, TX. This conference was organized by Oldways
in association with Vegetarian Times magazine and the Chefs Collaborative 2000. [...]
Our fifth pyramid, the African Heritage Diet Pyramid, was introduced in late 2011, as a resource for all people of African roots who wish to optimize their health through enjoyment
of the traditional foods of Africa and the African Diaspora. This new pyramid honors healthy food traditions from the American South, the Caribbean, and South America, as well as the African continent. [...]
All five of these Oldways traditional diet pyramids have been embraced by consumers, educators, dietitians, and scientists alike, and are widely used in courses in schools and colleges, by dietitians
and physicians with clients and patients, and in the food and drink industry. [...]
Mediterranean Diet Pyramid
The Eating Pattern of The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid
Dietary data from the parts of the Mediterranean region that in the recent past enjoyed the lowest recorded rates of chronic diseases and the highest adult life expectancy are characterized by a
pattern similar to the one illustrated in the list below. The healthfulness of this pattern is corroborated by more than 50 years of epidemiological and experimental nutrition research. The frequency
and amounts suggested are in most cases intentionally nonspecific, since variation was considerable. The historical pattern includes the following (several parenthetical notes add a contemporary public
- An abundance of food from plant sources, including fruits and vegetables, potatoes, breads and grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.
- Emphasis on a variety of minimally processed and, wherever possible, seasonally fresh and locally grown foods (which often maximizes the health-promoting micronutrient and antioxidant content of these foods).
- Olive oil as the principal fat, replacing other fats and oils (including butter and margarine).
- Total fat ranging from less than 25 percent to over 35 percent of energy, with saturated fat no more than 7 to 8 percent of energy (calories).
- Daily consumption of low to moderate amounts of cheese and yogurt (low-fat and non-fat versions may be preferable).
- Twice-weekly consumption of low to moderate amounts of fish and poultry (recent research suggests that fish be somewhat favored over poultry); up to 7 eggs per week (including those used
in cooking and baking).
- Fresh fruit as the typical daily dessert; sweets with a significant amount of sugar (often as honey) and saturated fat consumed not more than a few times per week.
- Red meat a few times per month (recent research suggests that if red meat is eaten, its consumption should be limited to a maximum of 12 to 16 ounces [340 to 450 grams] per month; where the flavor
is acceptable, lean versions may be preferable).
- Regular physical activity at a level which promotes a healthy weight, fitness and well-being.
- Moderate consumption of wine, normally with meals; about one to two glasses per day for men and one glass per day for women. From a contemporary public health perspective, wine should be considered optional and
avoided when consumption would put the individual or others at risk.
Asian Diet Pyramid
This pyramid, the second in the series of traditional diet pyramids, was developed by Oldways in conjunction with the Cornell-China-Oxford Project on Nutrition, Health and Environment, and the Harvard School of
Public Health. It was released at the International Conference on the Diets of Asia in San Francisco in 1995.
The Asian Diet Pyramid illustrates the Traditional Asian Diet. Like the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, this pyramid was developed as a model for healthy eating because of the historical low incidence of chronic
diseases in a specific region – in this case, in Asian countries. The traditional diet in many Asian countries also is often closely tied to both religious practices and long-standing customs, and the record of
these eating habits is an excellent source of information and culinary inspiration.
The Asian Diet's geographical base is very broad. It includes (but is not limited to) Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesian, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, North Korea, South Korea,
Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. [...] [Read More]
Latino Diet Pyramid
Variations of the Latin American diet have traditionally existed in the parts of Latin America where maize (corn), potatoes, peanuts, and beans are grown, including modern-day Mexico, and the other countries in
Central and South America. This eating pattern is a blend of the broad traditional diets of three cultures: the indigenous people (Aztecs, Incas, and Maya, and other Native Americans); the Spanish, who arrived
in the 1500s; and the Africans, who originally came as slaves. [...] Like the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, this pyramid emphasizes eating more fruits and vegetables, eating fish at least two times per week, enjoying
meals with family and friends, and engaging physical activity every day. [...] [Read more]
Vegetarian Diet Pyramid
A plant-based diet can be an excellent source of all the necessary nutrients (protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and
all nine essential amino acidshistidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine (and/or cysteine), phenylalanine
(and/or tyrosine), threonine, tryptophan, and valine.) for optimal health, particularly when a wide variety of foods are eaten each day.
Some vegetarians (especially vegans) may need to add supplements to ensure that they are getting all the essential nutrients they require.
Last accessed on the Oldways site 6 November 2008:
The Vegetarian Diet Pyramid [...] represents a traditional healthy vegetarian diet. Variations of this traditional healthy vegetarian diet exist throughout the world, particularly in parts
of North America, Europe, South America, and most notably, Asia. Given these carefully defined parameters, the phrase "Traditional Vegetarian Diet" is used here to represent
the healthy traditional ovo-lacto vegetarian diets of these regions and peoples.
According to the 1995 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, healthful diets contain the amounts of essential nutrients and energy
needed to prevent nutritional deficiencies and excesses. Healthful diets also provide the right balance of carbohydrate, fat,
and protein to reduce risks for chronic diseases, and they are obtained from a variety of foods that are available, affordable,
and enjoyable. People are quickly learning that they can easily combine a variety of grains and vegetables to ensure that all
nine essential amino acids are obtained in adequate amounts. Plant protein foods contribute approximately 65 percent of the
per capita supply of protein on a worldwide basis. Vegetarian meals can be delicious and exciting, especially when several
varieties of grains, fruits, and vegetables are combined. A wide array of spices and herbs, an increasing variety of produce
at the market, and multiple options for artesian oils and cheeses all combine to produce flavors and tastes that capture the
essence of a culinary adventure [...]
African Heritage Pyramid
Source: The African Heritage Diet Pyramid
Oldways. www.oldwayspt.org. Introduced by Oldways in 2011. Last accessed 18 January 2012.
The African Heritage Pyramid is a guide to the healthy traditional diets of African American ancestors. Base your meals mostly on a variety of foods nearest the base of the pyramid.
- Go For Greens. Greens like spinach, collards, mustards and turnip greens are a big part of African heritage cuisine; they help keep your blood, liver, and kidneys in
top health. Cook them lightly to retain all of their extraordinary nutrients!
- Every day, enjoy vegetables, fruits, mostly whole grains and cereals, beans, herbs and spices, peanuts and nuts, and healthy
tubers like sweet potatoes. These are the core African Heritage foods to shop for, prepare, and eat most often.
- Tuna, mackerel, and salmon are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Sardines and other small, bony fish are rich sources of calcium and vitamin D.
Enjoy them grilled, broiled, or lightly pan cooked in water and a tiny bit of healthy oil.
- Use small amounts of healthy oils, like sesame or olive oil for dressings, and canola, red palm oil, or extra virgin coconut oil for cooking.
- Eat eggs, poultry and other meats moderately, in small portions, or use as garnishes for other dishes.
- Consume dairy in small portions, and if you are lactose intolerant, enjoy other calcium-rich foods like greens, beans, and almonds.
- Sweets, at the top of the pyramid, are foods to eat less often, limiting them to once a week or at special meals.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day. If you drink alcohol, limit it to one glass per day for women, two for men.
For a list of common foods of African Heritage and their food groups, click here.
Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid
A food pyramid is one tool to help you eat better. Find out how to use a food pyramid to create a healthy diet.
A healthy-eating plan can be illustrated in many ways, but it's often found in the shape of a pyramid. Food
pyramids outline various food groups and food choices that, if eaten in the right quantities, form the foundation
of a healthy diet.
The food pyramid plan
Guidelines for choosing foods are widely represented in various food pyramids. The triangular shape of the pyramid
shows you where to focus when selecting foods. Foods to eat the most of create the base of the pyramid, and foods
to eat in smaller amounts or less frequently are shown farther up the pyramid.
A food pyramid familiar to many Americans is MyPyramid (formerly known as the Food Guide Pyramid), established
by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services. Many
other pyramids exist, however. These include the Asian, Latin American, Mediterranean and Vegetarian diet
pyramids developed by Oldways Preservation Trust, and the Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid, just to name a few [...] [Read more]
A healthy diet can be illustrated in many ways, but it's often found in the shape of a pyramid. Most people are familiar with MyPyramid developed by the Department of Agriculture, but that's history now.
It's been replaced with MyPlate.
However, many other healthy diets are still represented by food pyramids. These include the Asian, Latin American, Mediterranean and Vegetarian Food Guide pyramids, as well as the Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid,
just to name a few. These graphics reinforce the choices that are the foundation of a healthy diet.
Basic principles of a healthy diet
Symbols, such as a pyramid, illustrate how the pieces of a healthy diet fit together. The base of the pyramid is typically made up of foods that should be the bulk of your healthy diet. In contrast, foods you should
eat in smaller amounts or less frequently are shown in the smaller sections of the pyramid. The same principle applies to the dinner plate — half of the plate consists of fruits and vegetables, which should be the bulk
of your diet.
Of course, no single food provides all of the nutrients that your body needs, so the idea is to eat a variety of foods from each group in the proper proportions to get all the necessary nutrients and other substances
that promote good health.
In addition, most healthy-diet plans emphasize the following:
- Eat more plant foods, including fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Choose lean protein from a variety of sources.
- Limit sweets and salt.
- Control portion sizes.
- Be physically active.
Joel Fuhrman MD The Nutritarian Food Pyramid
Dr. Fuhrman’s food pyramid is based on the principles of high nutrient eating as illustrated by his Health Equation: Health = Nutrients / Calories (H = N / C). Low-calorie, nutrient dense foods are at the base of the
pyramid, and high-calorie, nutrient poor foods are at the top. As nutrient density decreases, the quantity of room in the diet decreases.
Nutritional science in the last twenty years has demonstrated that colorful plant foods contain a huge assortment of protective compounds, mostly of which still remain unnamed. Only by eating an assortment of
nutrient-rich natural foods can we access these protective compounds and prevent the common diseases that afflict Americans. Our modern, low-nutrient eating style has led to an overweight population, the majority
of whom develop diseases of nutritional ignorance, causing our medical costs to spiral out of control.
The base of the pyramid – the foundation of the diet, foods consumed in the highest quantity – should be the foods with the highest ratios of nutrients to calories – these are vegetables. Ninety percent of the
daily diet should be made up of nutrient rich plant foods, whose calories are accompanied by health-promoting phytochemicals: green and other non-starchy vegetables; fresh fruits; beans and legumes; raw nuts, seeds,
and avocados; starchy vegetables; and whole grains.
If desired, the remaining 10% of the diet can contain small amounts of foods with lower nutrient to calorie ratios, such as animal products, sweets, and processed foods, as shown toward the top of the pyramid. By
keeping these low nutrient foods to a minimum and striving to eat at least 90% of calories from the unrefined plant foods that comprise the base of the pyramid each day, you construct a health-promoting, disease-preventing
diet. Those that strive to follow this high nutrient eating style are considered nutritarians. [...]
American Diabetes Association Create Your Plate
Six Easy Steps to Create Your Plate
It's simple and effective for both managing diabetes and losing weight. Creating your plate let's you still choose the foods you want, but changes the portion sizes so you are getting larger portions of non-starchy vegetables and a smaller portion of starchy foods. When you are ready, you can try new foods within each food category.
Try these six simple steps to get started:
Using your dinner plate, put a line down the middle of the plate.
- Then on one side, cut it again so you will have 3 sections on your plate.
- Fill the largest section with non-starchy vegetables such as:
- spinach, carrots, lettuce, greens, cabbage, bok choy
- green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes,
- vegetable juice, salsa, onion, cucumber, beets, okra,
- mushrooms, peppers, turnip
- Now in one of the small sections, put starchy foods such as:
- whole grain breads, such as whole wheat or rye
- whole grain, high-fiber cereal
- cooked cereal such as oatmeal, grits, hominy, or cream of wheat
- rice, pasta, dal, tortillas
- cooked beans and peas, such as pinto beans or black-eyed peas
- potatoes, green peas, corn, lima beans, sweet potatoes, winter squash
- low-fat crackers and snack chips, pretzels, and fat-free popcorn
- And then on the other small section, put your meat or meat substitutes such as:
- chicken or turkey without the skin
- fish such as tuna, salmon, cod, or catfish
- other seafood such as shrimp, clams, oysters, crab, or mussels
- lean cuts of beef and pork such as sirloin or pork loin
- tofu, eggs, low-fat cheese
- Add an 8 oz glass of non-fat or low-fat milk. If you don’t drink milk,
you can add another small serving of carb such as a 6 oz. container of light yogurt or a small roll.
- And a piece of fruit or a 1/2 cup fruit salad and you have your meal planned. Examples are fresh, frozen, or canned in juice or frozen in light syrup or fresh
Your plate will look different at breakfast but the idea is the same. If you use a plate or bowl for breakfast, keep your portions small. Use half your plate for starchy foods. You can ad fruit in the small
part and a meat or meat substitute in the other. Find out about Breakfast On the Go.
Joshua Wold's Vegan Food Pyramid
Illustrating over 125 vegan food items as an alternative to the traditional food pyramid, Joshua Wold's 2006 Vegan Food Pyramid has received praise from many quarters, and is available as a free download in
multiple languages. You can also buy it online postcard packs or posters. He's recently updated the design, and plans to roll out more changes over time. This product represents Wold's personal
experience as a vegetarian and vegan. He's an artist, he writes, not a medical professional; although people in the medical profession have appreciated his poster, the vegan food pyramid is only intended to
be used as a guide to inspire you with the many amazing vegan food items available. If you need nutritional advice, please consult your physician or nutritionist.
The Vegan Food Pyramid Chart is something we use in our local cooking classes and in our health education organization. We believe this chart is excellent, it is especially
good for children; they love to look at it because it is so vibrant, busy with information and the illustrations are superb. We recommend this chart highly.
John Clark MD & Julie Clark
The Native American Food Pyramid
Mark Sisson: The Primal Blueprint
The Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid: For effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and maximum longevity.
General Guidelines: 80% of body composition success is determined by diet. Limit processed carb intake (hence, insulin production), and obtain sufficient protein and fat to fuel and rebuild.
- Protein: Average .7 – 1 gram per pound of lean body mass/day – depending on activity levels (more at times is fine).
- Carbs: 50-100 grams/day (or less) = accelerated fat loss. 100-150 grams/day = effortless weight maintenance. Heavy exercisers can increase carb intake as needed to replace glycogen stores.
- Fat: Enjoy freely but sensibly for balance of caloric needs and high dietary satisfaction levels.
- Avoid Poisonous Things: Conventional Wisdom’s dietary guidelines promote fat storage, type 2 diabetes, inflammation and obesity!
- Eliminate: Sugary foods and beverages, grains (wheat, corn, rice, pasta, breads, cereals, etc.), legumes (soy and other beans), trans and partially hydrogenated fats, high-risk conventional meat and produce, and excess PUFA’s (instead, increase omega-3 oils).
- Modern Adjustments: Some modern foods that Grok didn’t eat can still be included in a healthy diet
- Moderation: Certain high glycemic fruit, coffee, high-fat dairy products, starchy tuber vegetables, and wild rice.
- Supplements: Multivitamin/mineral formula, probiotics, omega-3 fish oil and protein powder.
- Herbs, spices and extracts: Offer many health benefits and enhance enjoyment of meals.
- Sensible indulgences: Dark chocolate, moderate alcohol, high-fat treats.
Udo's Choice Food Pyramids
Udo's 3 Diet Pyramids are for [...] adults who fall into one of the
three following categories: HEALTHY PEOPLE (people who are near normal weight who have no major
health problems); SICK PEOPLE (people who suffer from chronic degenerative diseases); and ACTIVE PEOPLE (people such as professional
athletes, construction laborers and fitness buffs who burn more calories in physical activity than average). Click on each
one of the above pyramid [images below] to see the full diagram. These pyramids illustrate general dietary principles; they [are]
are educational in nature; individuals should consult with health care professionals before making dietary changes... [Read more]