Step 2. Create a plate
Follow the new food pyramid from the US Department of Agriculture, MyPlate.
1. Imagine the plate divided into quarters.
2. Top most of one half with fiber-rich cooked or raw vegetables in dark green and other colors, leaving enough room for a large serving of fruit. Five servings a day reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. Fiber slows down digestion and prevents blood sugar spikes.
3. Fill a little less than a quarter of the plate with lean protein, about the width and thickness of a deck of cards. Fish, poultry, meats, tofu, eggs, nuts, and nut butters provide the nutrients needed to build and repair cells, provide energy, and help create enzymes, hormones, and antibodies. Serve fish twice a week.
4. The last quarter of the plate, slightly larger, is for whole grains, such as barley, brown rice, 100% whole grain or whole grain bread, oatmeal, quinoa, and beans with brown rice. (Double win: Quinoa and beans with brown rice make a complete protein when eaten on the same day and can be counted as either grain or protein.) Low-glycemic complex carbohydrates provide energy without increasing blood sugar and help reduce insulin resistance and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
5. Healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, such as those found in fatty fish, nuts and seeds, avocados, and olive oil, should be an everyday occurrence. The recommended level is 3 to 6 teaspoons. The USDA cautions that fat represents between 20 and 35% of total calories consumed. Less than 10% should be saturated fat, 7% for those with high LDL cholesterol.