We should eat more greens than grains, according to Nutrition Australia’s new Healthy Eating Pyramid.
It’s the end of an era for sugar and butter, too.
Listen Now: The Nutrition food Pyramid has been updated to reflect 2015 health standards
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No longer do these ubiquitous ingredients appear in the famous food pyramid, the educational tool devised 35 years ago to teach us about balancing our diets.
This week the organisation released its first revision of the pyramid in 15 years, to keep in step with the Australian Dietary Guidelines of 2013.
No more sugar: Nutrition Australia's Healthy Eating Pyramid, 3rd edition, released this week.
Features of the pyramid include:
- The complete removal of butter, sugar and margarine. Previous pyramids allowed them in small amounts, but now they’re nowhere to be seen.
- The pyramid’s pointy end instead features “healthy fats”, such as extra virgin olive oil, and fat-containing nuts such as almonds.
- Grain-based foods still have a place on the Australian dietary stage, but no longer take the lead role.
- Instead, the large section at the bottom of the pyramid, representing about 70% of our ideal diets, is dedicated only to plant foods such as fruit, vegetables and legumes.
- The vegetable section has a big focus on greens, including bok choy, pak choi, green beens, broccoli, zucchini, basil and more.
- The grain section now sits above the fruits and veggies level and is a little smaller, but includes a wider range of grains, including those that have risen in popularity of late such as quinoa and cous cous.
- Dairy and protein foods still feature in moderate amounts, such as lean meats, including poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes.
- Herbs and spices have been added, with the message that they should be “enjoyed”.
- Water is featured as the drink of choice.
Clearing Up The Diet Confusion
In recent years, diets such as the 5:2, the Raw Vegan diet, the Paleo, the Blood Type diet and the Alkaline diet, have gained a lot of attention.
The aim of the new pyramid is to try and clear up confusion and to prevent fad dieting, with simple messages.
”The pyramid is designed to cut through all the misinformation out there,” Ms Hancock said. “We know there is a lot of confusion at the moment.”
She said dairy was still considered essential by Nutrition Australia and the Australian dietary guidelines, despite the rising popularity of vegan and no-dairy diets.
And fat is still important, too - just not the unhealthy kind.
“We’ve made a little allowance up the top for healthy fats," Lucinda said, "because we recognise the importance of including healthy fats in your diet in small amounts, like extra virgin olive oil."
Australians Need To Shape Up
Apparently it’s time we took notice of the healthy food pyramid, since the average Aussie is “not doing too good” when it comes to health and weight, Ms Hancock said.
“More than 50 per cent of Australian adults are now overweight or obese,” she explained.
“The latest health survey data shows the average Australian is getting more than a third of their daily energy intake from junk food.
“Less than 7% of us actually eat enough vegetables, and only half of us eat enough fruit.
“There’s really no allowance in the new pyramid for the junk food at all.”
Health bloggers are rejoicing over the new-look pyramid, including Sarah Wilson of I Quit Sugar, whose response to the precedence of veggies over cereals is, “Finally!”
Australia’s official dietary guidelines of 2013* say that plant foods are best in their whole forms to maximise the health benefits.
And while fruits are best raw, they say most vegetables are better cooked, to increase digestability.
The guidelines also point out the power of vegetables and legumes to protect against cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
- Nutrition Australia's take on the Healthy Eating Pyramid
- Sugar-free blogger Sarah Wilson's take on the new-look-pyramid