Magazine article Work & Family Life

What Makes a Diet 'Balanced' and 'Varied'?

Magazine article Work & Family Life

What Makes a Diet 'Balanced' and 'Varied'?

Article excerpt

We're told to eat a "balanced" and "varied" diet, as if they were one and the same. But a balanced diet may not be varied-and some varieties don't matter that much in any case.

A balanced diet, based on the USDA's food pyramid, includes bread, cereal, rice and pasta (6-11 servings a day), vegetables (3-5 servings), fruit (2-4), dairy (2-3), meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs and nuts (2-3), and fats, oils and sweets (use sparingly).

But this diet may be less varied than you might think. For example, eating many different kinds of meats does not add to variety because meats are so similar nutritionally. Your best bet is to choose lean meat. By the same token, white-flour products are basically the same: it's best to eat whole grains. And dairy intake is less important than choosing low-fat or nonfat products. …

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