In early 2005, the USDA released a new and improved food pyramid. The cartoon character displayed on the side of the pyramid is not climbing to the top to jump off in frustration (as many of us may feel like doing), but it is indicative of the importance of exercise as a partnership with the foods we choose to eat. The USDA's guidelines have specific suggestions for food choices that should lead us to optimum health.
 Grains
5-8 ounces of grains per day depending on your age and gender. Of that amount, at least 3 ounces should be whole grain breads, crackers, pasta, cereals or rice.

Vegetables
2 1/2 cups of vegetables per day for people eating 2,000 calories a day, with higher or lower amounts depending on the calorie level. Select from all five vegetable subgroups (dark green, orange, legumes, starchy vegetables and other vegetables) several times a week.

Fruit
2 cups of fruit per day.

Oils
Most of your fat sources should come from fish, nuts and vegetable oils, and you should limit solid fats like butter, stick margarine, lard and shortening.

Milk
3 cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products every day.

Meat and Beans
Choose lean meats and poultry, varying protein choices with more fish, beans, peas, nuts and seeds.

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