We need foods from each of the My Pyramid food groups to assure we get all the nutrients we need.These "macro nutrients" (large nutrients) are protein, carbohydrate and fat.  For our bodies to be in good health, we need each of these in the right balance.

PROTEIN:  Good sources include: Meats, chicken, fish, eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese, nuts, seeds, legumes (dried peas & beans)

WHY we need it:  Protein is important for essential body functions, providing:

  • Amino acids, the building blocks that make each of your 60 trillion cells!
  • Structure for muscles, bones, tissues &organs, hair, skin & nails.
  • Hemoglobin, which carries oxygen through out your body.
  • Neurotransmitters that affect your health and mood.

HOW MUCH we need: We only need about 15% of our calories from protein. Kids need about 1 gram for every 2 lbs. they weigh, or their wt. divided by 2.  Adults need about 60 grams/day. Follow the My Pyramid guide and consume 2 servings from the meat/protein group & 3 servings from dairy group and it's not hard to get enough! 

CARBOHYDRATE:  Good sources include: Breads, cereals, rice, vegetables,fruits - These are whole foods or "complex." Sugars & sweets - These are"simple sugars."

WHY we need it: We need complex carbs for energy and a lot more, providing:

  • Vitamins & minerals needed to live every day.
  • Fiber, which helps with digestion, steady blood sugar levels & helps keep blood cholesterol and blood fat levels low.
  • Phyto nutrients, which are protective ingredients that give fruits & vegetables their characteristic color, texture &/or smell.

HOW MUCH we need: We need at least 50% of our calories from whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Limit the desserts & sweets to less than 10% of calories.  Use the My Pyramid guidelines for amounts based on your age and activity level.

FAT:  Good sources include:  Oils,nuts, seeds, nut butters, avocado, olives, fish.  Meats, whole milk dairy products, margarine,and packaged or processed foods are sources of less healthy fats. 

WHY we need it: Fat is important for all like functions, providing:

  • Hormones & controlling factors in our bodies.
  • Structure for cells, insulation for nerves & protection for bones and organs.
  • Absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

HOW MUCH we need: We need about 20-30% of our calories from fats. Most kids need between50-75 grams/day.  Adults' needs depend on how many calories they eat, how much they move, & if they need to maintain or lose weight. Most will need at least 25 grams/day to be healthy.

REMEMBER: To master the "BALANCING ACT" & be your healthiest, include foods from each of these groups every day: PROTEIN,CARBOHYDRATE & FAT!

 Written by Mary Jo Parker, MS, RD, CDN,Nutrition Consultant to Personal Touch Food Services, Inc.