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Your Nutrition Needs

Author(s): Nancy Moreno, PhD, and Paula Cutler, BS.

Food Guide Pyramid

The Food Guide Pyramid, (or My Plate), serves as a visual guide for healthier eating. However, consumers also should pay attention to the quality of their food choices. For example, it is preferable to obtain carbohydrates from whole grains than from refined (white) flours and sugars. In addition, added sugars (those that do not occur naturally in a food, such as added sugar in soft drinks) should be limited to no more than 25 percent of total calories consumed. Carbohydrates are an important energy source for the body and should account for 45 to 65 percent of the calories in an adult diet, according the to the  Institute of Medicine (2002).

Similarly, five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables should be eaten daily. Fruits and vegetables are valuable sources of vitamins (chemicals needed by the body in small amounts) and minerals, and may have important roles in the prevention of certain diseases, such as cancer. Dairy products provide essential calcium. Skim milk and other low fat dairy products with added vitamin D are the best choices.

Meats, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts and beans all are good sources of protein, which is needed by the body to build muscles, hair, skin and collagen, as well as to carry out essential processes within cells. Protein also can be used by the body as an energy source. The best protein choices are low in fat. In general, the visible fat on meats and poultry should be avoided.

ats and oils aid in the absorption of essential vitamins and are very dense energy sources. Fats provide more Calories per gram (nine) than do carbohydrates or proteins (four Calories per gram). However, certain kinds of fats are healthier than others. Fats that are solid at room temperature, such as shortening, margarine and lard, should be avoided. Foods that include large amounts of unhealthy fats include some red meats, cream and whole milk dairy products, and most cakes, cookies and crackers. Plant-based oils, such as canola, olive and flaxseed, are much better choices.


Funded by the following grant(s)

National Space Biomedical Research Institute

National Space Biomedical Research Institute

This work was supported by National Space Biomedical Research Institute through NASA cooperative agreement NCC 9-58.