Cancer Institute A national cancer institute
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Food Guide Pyramid

One source for sound nutrition advice on cancer prevention and diet is the American Dietetic Association (ADA). As a reference for meal planning, the ADA recommends the Food Guide Pyramid and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Both of these support the "total diet approach" to eating. This means long-term eating habits are more important than what you eat at a single meal. In their words, "there are no good or bad foods, only good or bad diets or eating styles."

Food Guide Pyramid for Adults, USDA
click image to enlarge

The Food Guide Pyramid shows the types and serving sizes for the foods we should eat every day to stay healthy. Foods are placed in the pyramid in a way that shows how important they are to our health. We should eat more of the foods at the base than foods at the top. For example, grains, fruits, and vegetable groups are at the base of the pyramid. Meat, dairy, and fat groups are toward the top. Though all groups are important, the plant foods are at the base so that we remember to eat more of those and less of the animal products and added fats. The layout of the pyramid is also based on the fact that heart disease is the number one killer in America. Having the higher fat foods at the top tells us to eat those foods in moderation. The Food Guide Pyramid is pictured here.

A serving size is smaller than you may think. Following are serving sizes for each of the food groups.

Bread, Cereal, Rice & Pasta Group
(6-11 servings a day recommended)

A serving is:

Nutrition Tip: Make sure your cereals and grains have labels claiming 100 percent whole-wheat, so your body receives the benefits of fiber. Look for bread that has 3 grams or more of fiber per slice.

Fruit Group
(2-4 servings a day recommended)

A serving of fruit is:

Vegetable Group
(3-5 servings a day recommended)

A serving of vegetables is:

Nutrition tip: Choose frozen or low sodium canned vegetables if you do not have time to cut up or cook raw vegetables.

Milk, Yogurt & Cheese Group
(2-3 servings a day recommended)

For dairy products and recipes that use them, choose skim or 1 percent milk and soft cheeses such as cottage, ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, and Neufchatel. These have less saturated fat, which can clog your arteries.

A serving of dairy foods is:

Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs & Nuts Group
(2-3 servings or 6-9 oz a day recommended)

One serving of meat or meat substitute is 3 oz of chicken, beef, pork, fish, or veggie burger. An easy way to judge a meat portion is to remember that a 3-oz portion is the size of a full deck of cards or a woman's palm.

If you eat red meat, choose lean cuts such as round, sirloin and flank. Because these have less fat, they are tough cuts and will benefit from being marinated or cooked with a liquid in a crockpot to make them more tender. Keep portions to the size of a deck of cards. Moderate portions of meat will leave more space on your plate for cancer fighting fruits, vegetables, and grains.

One ounce of meat or meat substitute is:


Fats, Oils & Sweets
(Fats and sweets should be eaten sparingly. They are high in calories and fat.)

A serving of fat is:

A serving of sweets is:

Stanford Medicine Resources:

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