Heart Healthy Food Pyramid

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The main difference between a heart healthy food pyramid and the regular food pyramid is the emphasis on the different types of fats. Learn about the important of whole grain starches in the heart healthy food pyramid with help from a registered and licensed dietitian in this free video on healthy eating and nutrition.

Part of the Video Series: Healthy Eating
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Video Transcript

My name is Christine Marquette, and I'm a registered and licensed dietitian with Marquette Nutrition and Fitness, and I've been asked about a heart healthy food pyramid. The main difference between a heart healthy food pyramid and the regular food pyramid is the emphasis on the different types of fats. You're still going to have the base of the pyramid being the bread is...the breads and cereals -- basically, all the starches. In the heart healthy pyramid, it emphasizes whole grain types of starches, meaning wheat bread, multi-grain bread, brown rice versus the refined versions of these because those particular foods, being much higher in fiber, they're much better for your heart and they have that potential to lower cholesterol. The fruits and the vegetables -- that's about the same between both the regular food guide pyramid and the heart healthy pyramid. Where we start to see a difference is as we move up to the dairy area and the meat area. In the dairy area in the heart healthy pyramid, it's going to be only low-fat products, so that would mean skim or one percent milk. If it comes to cheese, it's going to be reduced fat cheeses. Eggs -- actually, there's been a bit of a change with eggs. In years past, there used to be the recommendation to significantly limit eggs because of the high cholesterol content. In more recent years, it's been recognized that the cholesterol in foods doesn't have as large of an impact on our blood cholesterol as we thought. It's actually primarily the saturated fat. So the restriction on eggs has actually been loosened, so the eggs will be about the same between both the heart healthy and the regular food guide pyramid. As far as the meats are concerned, in the heart healthy, it's only the lean choices when it comes to meats. So that's going to mean when it comes to beef, things like sirloin or round, pork tenderloins, making sure that poultry is skinless, and all types of seafood. Those are the primary protein foods when it comes to meat foods that are highlighted into the heart healthy pyramid, whereas, in the regular pyramid, all foods...all meats are included. At the tip of the pyramid would be the fats for both, and in the heart healthy pyramid, there's emphasis on plant-based fats, so things like canola oil, olive oil, your nut butters, all the different types of nuts and seeds. In the regular pyramid, it's all types of fats to be included in moderation. The other thing with the heart healthy pyramid is that there also is an emphasis to make sure that you're including exercise as well. So in addition to talking about the foods, physical activity is also incorporated into the heart healthy pyramid. So those are the major differences between heart healthy and regular. The fact that there is a heavy emphasis on good, healthy fats, limiting your saturated or trans fat, making sure that when it comes to grains that you're choosing whole grain, and that you're also including a significant amount of physical activity.


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