Your Daily Meal Pattern

MyPyramid Basics

In 2005, MyPyramid was unveiled to replace the Food Guide Pyramid. MyPyramid provides Americans age 2 and above with an outline for how to eat in a more healthful way each day.

MyPyramid is based on the 2005 version of the Dietary Guide for Americans. Together, they are designed to help Americans consume an appropriate amount of calories to support a healthy body weight and, at the same time, maximize nutrient intake.

MyPyramid emphasizes three key principles:

• Variety – Consume items from all the basic food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, meat and beans, milk, and oils) and subgroups (including dark green, deep orange, and starchy vegetables as well as legumes such as beans and peas).
• Proportion – Consume more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk or milk products and eat fewer foods rich in saturated or trans fats, added sugars, cholesterol, salt, and alcohol.
• Moderation – Choose foods that offer lower amounts of saturated and trans fats, added sugars, cholesterol, salt, and alcohol.

Daily Food Guide

MyPyramid provides 12 daily meal patterns to meet individual calorie needs for Americans age 2 and above. Calorie levels range from 1,000 to 3,200 calories; individual calorie recommendations are based on age, sex, and activity level.

MyPyramid breaks down foods and beverages into specific food categories. Here’s what’s included in each one:

• Fruits – All fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruits and fruit juices made or prepared without added sugars or fats.
• Vegetables – All fresh, frozen, and canned vegetables and vegetable juices made or prepared without added sugars or fats. Subcategories include dark green, deep orange, and starchy vegetables as well as legumes (beans and peas; these can also be counted in the Meat and Beans category).
• Grains – Whole grains and foods made with whole grains (for example, wheat, oats, cornmeal, barley, or other cereal grains) and refined grains (for example, white flour, degermed cornmeal, white bread, and white rice).
• Meat and Beans – Meats and poultry (lean), fish, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), tofu and other soy foods, nuts, nut butter, and seeds.
• Milk – All low-fat or fat-free milks, yogurts, frozen yogurts, dairy desserts, cheeses, and lactose-free and lactose-reduced products and made or prepared without added sugar.
• Oils – Vegetable oils; mayonnaise; some salad dressings; and vegetable oil spreads and soft margarines that are added to foods during processing, cooking, or at the table.
• Discretionary Calories – Calories from added sugars, solid fats, or alcohol, or calories from the extra fat or sugar in foods made wit or that naturally contain more fat and sugar (for example, high-fat meats or fruit made with added sugar)

The Food Guide Pyramid was the nutrition guide of the United States Department of Agriculture used before the development of MyPyramid in 2005.

The Dietary Guide for Americans is a set of science-based guidelines published every 5 years by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). They’re used to create national nutrition policies, and a new version is expected in 2010.


Fruits contain several key nutrients and other beneficial substances. They provide simple carbohydrates and are naturally low in fat and sodium and contain no cholesterol. Because of their high water and fiber content, fruits tend to filling and can therefore be useful allies if you’re trying to lose or manage your weight. They’re also relatively low in calories. Studies show that consuming fruits and vegetables as part of a healthful, nutritious diet can reduce the risk for cardiovascular diseases (including strokes), type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.
Although all fruits are healthful, some are standouts. Whole fruits typically contain fewer calories and more fiber than more concentrated – and more caloric – varieties such as dried fruits or fruit juices. Some high-fiber fruits include pears, raspberries, strawberries, bananas, and guava.

Many fruits provide good source of vitamins and minerals. Some fruits that are high in vitamin A include mango, cantaloupe, and apricots. Vitamin C-rich fruits include guava, papaya, oranges, and orange juice. Fruits rich in potassium include bananas, plantains, and organs.

Some fruits are also rich sources of phytochemicals such as carotenoids (beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin), flavonoids (anthocyanidins, flavanols, flavonones, and proanthocyanidins), and phenols (caffeic acid, ferulic acid, and resveratrol); following are examples.

• Carotenoids – Citrus fruits, peaches, apricots, pink grapefruit, watermelon, pumpkin, and guava
• Flanonoids – Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, red grapes, apples, and citrus fruits
• Phenols – Apples, pears, citrus fruits, and purple grape juice

Daily Recommended Amounts

MyPyramid recommends between 1 and 2 ½ cups of fruit each day depending on your individual daily calorie allotment.

Each of the following counts as approximately ½ cup of fruit (or about 60 calories):

• ½ cup cut up, raw, cooked, or frozen fruit
• 1 piece of fruit (1 small orange, peach, or banana)
• ½ cup 100% fruit juice (orange juice, cranberry juice, or grape juice)
• ¼ cup dried fruit (1 small box of raisins, 1 ½ ounces)

Carotenoids are a group of compounds naturally found in plant foods (including fruits and vegetables) that provide their deep yellow, orange, and red colors. Carotenoids convert to vitamin A in the body and can work as antioxidants, boosting immunity, promoting heart health, and supporting vision.

Flavonoids are a group of compounds found naturally in plant foods (including fruits and vegetables). They can act as antioxidants, supporting heart health, helping maintain brain function, and supporting health of the urinary tract.

Phenols are compounds found naturally in plants and plant foods. They can work as antioxidants, supporting a healthy heart, and helping maintain vision.

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