Content

Introduction

The food pyramid is a chart designed by US Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1992 to illustrate the advice and suggestions that should be followed to maintain a "complete and balanced diet. It must be interpreted as a set of indications aimed at organizing one's diet and should not be considered as a diet plan for slimming purposes.

The pyramid is divided horizontally, from the bottom to the top, into different sectors: each contains various types of food and the size of the sector is indicative of the relative frequency / quantity with which they should be consumed for a "complete and balanced diet."

At the base of the pyramid are the foods to be consumed more frequently and in greater quantities, at the top of the pyramid those to be consumed in moderation. Over time, various graphic versions of the food pyramid have followed one another that have changed the placement of foods in the various sectors, and, consequently, their frequency of consumption. An example is red meat, whose consumption has been reduced to no more than once a week.

The Italian food pyramid

In order to guide the Italian population towards healthier eating habits, the Ministry of Health has entrusted a group of experts (D.M.of 1.09.2003) the task of elaborating a reference food model that is reconciled both with the current lifestyle and with the food tradition of our country.

In this regard, the "Food Science Institute of the University of Rome La Sapienza" developed the Weekly pyramid of the Italian lifestyle based on the definition of Wellness Quantity (QB), that is to say the quantities of food but also of physical activity that should be considered to maintain a condition of well-being.

There pyramid provides information on the quantities of food to be consumed by choosing between the various food groups (the portions of the food are indicated in grams). The quantities are adapted to the needs of each individual based on his energy expenditure; that is, to the physical activity that he carries out, meaning by it also the brisk walking for at least 30 minutes, even if not continuous, to be carried out every day. The purpose with which the pyramid was built is to educate to a healthy diet and to an active life to avoid overweight and obesity.

Subsequently, the daily food pyramid, also articulated on different levels in which the different food groups are placed.

To read and interpret the food pyramid correctly, it is necessary to start from the base, where the foods to be consumed every day, several times a day are presented: fruit and vegetables, essential for the supply of vitamins, mineral salts and fiber. one level, there are foods that are mainly a source of carbohydrates of which frequent consumption is indicated: bread, pasta, cereals, important sources of energy.In the upper levels are placed the seasoning fats (extra virgin olive oil and butter which, in moderate quantities, are essential for health), milk and its derivatives, essential, thanks to the calcium content, for bone growth. and for the prevention of its degenerative diseases and then the foods that are mainly sources of proteins (such as meat, fish, eggs, legumes, cheeses), of which a lower and lower frequency of consumption is indicated as the level rises. Finally, at the top of the pyramid there are foods to be consumed only occasionally because their excessive consumption can represent a source of health risk: wine, beer, sweets.

To have a balanced diet, just choose between the foods of the various levels of the pyramid, varying them and consuming those of the lower levels in greater quantity and frequency.

Some versions of the food pyramid also include water and recommend a consumption of at least 6 glasses per day, about 1.5 liters. Water is the essential constituent of the human organism and is essential for all physiological processes. and biochemical reactions.

For a more complete view, versions of food pyramid weekly / monthly, which report the frequencies for the different food groups recommended by the Guidelines for healthy eating of the Italian Society of Human Nutrition (SINU).

In-depth link

University of Rome La Sapienza. Food Science and Human Nutrition Research Unit. Weekly lifestyle pyramid

EpiCentro (ISS). Gaining health. Power dossier

Ministry of Health. Feeding the planet, feeding it healthily. Nutritional balance of a healthy diet. Notebooks of the Ministry of Health. 2015; 25 

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