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Vegetarian Food Pyramid

People from all across the globe are now turning to vegetarianism, for several factors, which may include religious reasons, personal preferences, health benefits or even humanitarian grounds. It is true to some extent, that becoming a vegetarian can help improve your overall health, but that is only if you make it a point to consume the right foods that contain all the nutrients that your body requires. Cutting meat out of your diet does not guarantee you all the results and benefits of following a vegetarian diet, if you do not eat the right foods in the right quantities. One of the most important aspects of being a vegetarian is including a variety of foods in your diet on a daily basis. This means that no single type of food can be relied upon, as your sole source of nutrition.
Moreover, eating too much of one food type could cause your body to develop a sensitivity to that particular food, leading to a potential allergy. Therefore, by referring to the vegetarian food pyramid as a guideline, you can ensure that you derive the maximum benefits of following a vegetarian diet.

A food pyramid is a graphic representation, of what people should eat on a daily basis, in order to get the recommended amount of vitamins and minerals through their diets. It highlights the various foods types that should constitute a part of a diet plan and the different quantities that they should be consumed in everyday. A vegetarian food pyramid does not include meat or even eggs, but may include dairy products. Given below is an outline of a vegetarian food pyramid:

  • Whole grains, 6 to 11 servings each day: This food group provides energy, as it is high in B Vitamins, zinc, iron and fiber. Foods included in this group include sliced whole wheat bread (30g), dry cereal (30g), cooked brown rice or pasta (100g), tortillas (30g), muffins or crackers (30g), bagels or dinner rolls (30g). These foods reduce the risks of coronary heart diseases and constipation and help in weight management.
  • Vegetables, 4 to 7 servings each day: The foods that fall under this group can be divided into two – green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, lettuce, chard) and other vegetables (beetroot, potato, squash, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower). One service measures approximately 50 grams of raw vegetables or 80 grams of cooked vegetables. They are very high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants and they reduce the risks of cardiovascular diseases, cancers, bone diseases, diabetes, etc.
  • Fruits, 2 to 4 servings each day: Like vegetables, fruits are very high in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber, which is why they help the body combat a lot of health problems. Approximately 150 grams each of fruits like apples, oranges, bananas, berries and melons are very healthy. Additionally 35 grams of dry fruit and 175 grams of fruit juice are also included in this food group.
  • Legumes and soy, 2 to 3 serving each day: This includes 150 grams each of cooked dry beans, lentils, peas, soy. In case of tofu or other soy products, the quantity for a serving is 125 grams. This food group is high in B vitamins and trace minerals, which is very important for the body
  • Dairy products 1 to 3 servings each day: Foods in this group are high in calcium and are important for healthy bones. This includes 250ml of low-fat milk or yogurt and 125ml of low fat cottage cheese.
  • Nuts and seeds, 1 to 2 ounces each day: These foods contain fiber and protein and can lower the risk of heart diseases and therefore up to a quarter cup of walnuts, almost, cashews, or sunflower seeds are recommended. 30 grams of almond butter, peanut butter and tahini are also a part of this group.
  • Oil, 2 to 3 teaspoons each day: Some types of oil help in improving cholesterol, as they contain Vitamin E and essential fatty acids. Up to three teaspoons of flax, olive, walnut or canola oil are recommended everyday.
  • Sweets: Sweets like pie, chocolate, ice cream and cookies usually do not have much nutritional value and therefore should be avoided.
Submitted on January 16, 2014