Hooray! Let’s have a party full of quinoa and roasted pumpkin! Nutrition Australia has updated our healthy eating pyramid for the first time in 15 years. Here are 5 things I love about the new pyramid:
1. Vegetables as the base of the pyramid.
Vegetables have replaced carbohydrates as the base of our healthy eating pyramid. It recommends plant-foods make up 70% of what we eat. Only 7% of Australians consume the required 5-6 servings of vegetable they need a day. Vegetables are incredibly nutrient dense and low in calorie. Higher vegetable consumption has also been linked to better weight management and a lower incidence of many diseases like colorectal cancer.
2. Complex carbohydrates replacing refined carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates give us energy. It is also the only thing our brains can run on. Processed carbohydrates like white bread cause our blood sugar to spike and crash while providing no additional nutritional benefit. This replacement shows us the need to be discerning when choosing our carbohydrates. The pyramid does a great job showing us our wide variety of options like quinoa, oats and wholegrain cereals.
3. Emphasis on healthy oils.
Yes, not all oils are created equal. Instead of recommending generic oil and margarine, the pyramid now recommends a small amount of healthy fats with olive oil being depicted.
4. Eliminating junk food.
This food group has been eliminated in the 2015 update of the food pyramid. Junk food or “discretionary food” was included in the previous pyramid with a recommendation to “eat less” of this food group. The elimination has been done in good time, considering that the average Australian is getting more than a third of their daily energy intake from junk food.
5. Reducing salt intake and using herbs.
I often say that sodium (salt) is sneaking up on us! We look at the fat, sugar and carbohydrate content of our food but what about the sodium? So many pre-made stocks, bread, processed meats and condiments are full of sodium. A high sodium diet is linked to kidney and coronary heart disease. Herbs are a great way to keep food tasty while skimping on salt.