World Health Organization describes being healthy as being healthy physically, mentally and socially and each of these stages are closely related to eating habits and food choices. In order to ensure efficient operation of our cells, all foods (proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals) must be consumed at sufficient levels, each food group must be included in each main meal.
The first group among the food groups is "Meat, Egg and Legumes" group which is the best group for animal and vegetable proteins, some vitamins and minerals (iron, zinc, group B vitamins). The second food group, "Milk and Dairy" products are the best sources for calcium. Additionally, they are also quite rich in some minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, proteins, Vitamin A, some Vitamin B (especially, riboflavin, B12). Kefir and homemade yoghurt among dairy products are especially preferrable for their pro-biotic features. The third food group, "Grains" as a result of being the best source for carbohydrates, are an important source of energy for humans. Brain tissue only uses glucose for energy. For sufficient and balanced diet, half of the daily energy requirement must be compensated from quality carbohydrates such as pasta. Grain products included in this group, in addition to being energy sources, are also rich in Vitamins B1, B2, B6, Vitamin E, folic acid, iron, zinc, selenium, pulp and vegetable protein. The fourth food group "Fruits and Vegetables" are the best sources for antioxidant vitamins. The fifth food group" Fats" are important since they contain fatty vitamins which are required to be used in the body. Fats are contained in vegetables and animals. While animal fats are generally in solid form at room temperature, vegetable fats are in liquid form. Butter, tallow oil, tail oil are examples of animal fats whereas olive oil, sunflower seed oil, corn extract oil are vegetable fats.
Food Pyramid, is a guideline providing the necessary distributions of food groups people required to consume on a daily basis. Countries have developed food pyramids and eating models according to their own conditions, social customs and traditions.
First food pyramid was developed in America. According to this pyramid bread, grains, rice and pasta are located at the largest section in 6-11 portions and followed by fruits (2-4 portions), milk yoghurt, cheese (2-3 portions), meat, chicken, fish, legumes, eggs and nuts (2-3 portions) and at the smallest section, fats and sugars are placed (with minimal usage).
As a result of the increasing obesity in America, validity of the food pyramid was questioned. It is updated as "Mypyramid" in the year of 2015. The most important change is a mountaineer which represent exercise is located at the stairs of the pyramid. Additionally, vegetables and dairy products which had narrow sections in the pyramid compared to grains, are now equally distributed in the pyramid with the grain group. An even smaller section was provided for proteins which are located after fruits and a small line was used for fats.
This food pyramid in which a mountaineer was used, was replaced by "myplate" eating model in 2011. Half of the plate is filled with fruits and vegetables and other side is divided into grains and proteins, dairy products however are represented additionally in a smaller plate and these groups have different sizes. In contrast to the pyramid, fruits and vegetables groups are handled separately in the plate model. Plate model provides guidlines regarding how much food should be consumed per the area covered by the certain group. Pasta is one of the suggessted foods to be consumed daily and located in grains group.
In its last version, "myplate" image and food pyramid was combined and importance of using supplementary products such as olive oil, drinking water, is emphasized. In this last version, pasta is at the second spot on the list of foods that should be consumed regularly.
In Turkey, "four-leaf clover" is being used instead of a food pyramid. In order to emphasize the fact that foods from four different food categories should be included in daily meal planning, "four-leaf clover" model was preferred. Model includes milk group, meat group, fruits and vegetables, and grains. Leaves of the clover used for the logo were represented as hearts. This heart emphasizes the importance of health and love. Under the circle covering the leaves, the phrase "Sufficient and Balanced Eating" is stated and upper part of the circle is covered in olive branches. Olive branches represent the essential food of the Mediterranean diet, olive. Inner section of the leaves of the clover contains the images of the food groups that they represent. Grain group located on the left side of the clover symbolizes the importance of eating wheat and pasta.
Since 1992, "healthy eating plate" is used instead of the food pyramid. On the plate, 5 food groups suggested by the Ministry of Health of England, are divided according to their consumption amounts. The main purpose for the creation of plate model, is about correct amounts for the consumption of the foods required for energy. One third of the plate is covered by grains such as pasta, rich in carbohydrates, one third of it is covered by fruits and vegetables and the remaining part is covered by other food groups (meat products, milk and dairy, fats).
Food guidline used by Japan is likened to a well-known traditional Japanese toy, whirligig. List of food groups are provided according to the foods suggessted on the daily. On the whirligig, suggesstions are listed from top to bottom and as follows; water and tea, bread, rice, pasta group; vegetable group; meat and fish group; milk and dairy products; fruit group. Running person figurine located at the top of the whirligig represents the importance of exercise. Additionally, guideline emphasize that snacks, etc. and sugary and fatty products should be consumed at a minimal and plenty of water, tea and other liquids should be consumed.
In China, food guideline pagoda which shows five different food groups in five different levels, are used instead of a food pyramid. Pagoda is the name of the Buddhist Temples. Food Pagoda in China; items are listed from top to bottom and as follows; at top, solid and liquid fats; below that milk and dairy products, soy and nuts; meat, chicken, fish, shrimp, egg at the middle, fruits and vegetable groups at the second layer and at the floor level, grains are located and the importance of water is emphasized with a droplet holding a glass and exercise is emphasized with a running person figurine.
One of the preconditions of healthy generations is sufficient and balanced diets. Therefore, suggesstions provided by food guidlines are to be considered and actualised. For a healthy diet, 50% to 60% of the daily energy requirement must be provided from quality carbohydrates. By quality carbohydrates, it means foods with complex carbohydrates such as pasta, bulgur. To ensure a healthy body and long life, suggesstions provided by food guidelines are to be considered and actualised.
- Ozer, E.A. et al., Gida Piramitleri, Fonksiyonel Beslenme (2018), Bölüm 2, s.13-30.