The pyramid’s triangular shape shows very clearly that the food at the triangle’s base are those that should be eaten most often and those at the top should only be eaten occasionally.
The different food groups comprising the pyramid are described below:
Carbohydrates: the body’s fuel
At the bottom of the pyramid are the starch-containing foods or carbohydrates. These provide the foundation for our diet and should be present in every meal. It is from the carbohydrates that the body obtains the energy it needs to keep going during the day.
This group includes: rice, potatoes, wheat, maize, pulses and all the products made from them, such as bread, pasta, flour…
Fruit and vegetables: regulate and protect
On the next level up, there are fruits and vegetables. These are the main sources of vitamins, minerals and fibre, which are essential nutrients that the body needs to function properly, as their job is to regulate all the functions that take place inside the body. We must eat 5 portions a day of the foods included in this group: 2 portions of vegetables and 3 portions of fruit. You will also see that olive oil is included in this level. This should always be the oil chosen, whether for cooking or for dressing salads.
Dairy products: strong bones
On the next level up are the dairy products. With their high calcium content, they are an essential part of our diet as the health of our bones and teeth depends on them. They should be consumed at all stages of life.
Particularly important within this group are: milk, yoghurt and cheese. The experts recommend 2 to 4 portions a day.
Protein foods: the body’s structure
With its protein content, this group performs structural functions within the body. This means that they are responsible for maintaining muscles, which in turn gives strength, stability, and so on.
This group includes: meat (white and red), fish (white or oily), pulses and eggs.
The following quantities are recommended:
- Meat: 3-4 times a week
- Fish: 3-4 times a week (1-2 times should be oily fish)
- Eggs: 3-4 units a week
- Pulses: 2-4 times a week
The top of the pyramid for special occasions
And lastly, at the top of the pyramid, there are foods that should only be eaten from time to time because of their composition (high in fat, salt and/or simple sugars). These include chocolates, sweets and soft drinks, and also pastry products (croissants, doughnuts, muffins…) and snacks (crisps, savoury biscuits).
Beside the pyramid we also find:
Water: It is an essential component for our body, and also the most abundant. ¾ of our body is water. It should always be the preferred drink both during and between meals. We should drink between 1.5 and 2 litres of water during the day.
Daily exercise: you should practice at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. This is the minimum time needed to enjoy the benefits of an active lifestyle.