Pyramid or plate? Explore these healthy diet options

Healthy diets come in all shapes and sizes. Pick one and discover how easy it is to eat healthy. By Mayo Clinic Staff

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.

Pyramid or plate? Explore these healthy diet options

These pyramids reflect the same general principles of healthy eating but allow for different food choices.

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.
June 18, 2011 See more In-depth