The Food Guide Pyramid was released by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1992; emphasizing foods from the five major food groups shown in the three lower levels of the Pyramid. Each of these food groups provides some but not all of the nutrients needed to maintain a balanced diet.
The Food Guide Pyramid shows that foods from the grain group along with vegetables and fruits are the basis of healthful diets. You should plan meals that are low in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol; using sodium and sugar in moderation.
Some foods fit into more than one group. Starchy vegetables such as white potatoes, sweet potatoes and corn, can be counted as servings in the grain products group or in the vegetable group. Dry beans, peas and lentils are in the meat group but they can alternatively be counted as servings of vegetables. These crossover foods can be counted as servings from either one or the other group, but not both.
Notice that a range of servings is given for each food group. The lower limit is for people who consume about 1,600 calories a day, while the upper limit is for people who consume about 2,800 calories a day.
The small tip of the Pyramid shows fats, oils and sweets. These are foods such as oils, salad dressings, cream, butter, margarine, sugars, soft drinks, candies and sweet desserts. These foods provide calories and little else nutritionally.Return to top of page