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The Right Nutrition for the Human Body

The human body needs the proper nutrition — from the right proportion of foods in the various food groups — in order to run efficiently. If humans didn’t have such an evolved sense of taste, maybe they would be like other animals and just eat what is part of their natural diet and eat it only when they are truly hungry.

But, alas, food tastes good, and humans often are tempted to put really cheap fuel in their systems. Would you do that to your car on a regular basis? Or, do you use the premium stuff to make sure your car’s engine doesn’t knock and ping?

If you want to keep your bodily systems from knocking and pinging, follow the recommendations made by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the Food Pyramid. The Food Pyramid serves as a way of visualizing the proportion of items from different food groups that should make up your diet.

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The following table gives you an idea of what exactly one serving of some different foods is considered to be.

Food Group (from Food Pyramid) Recommended Serving Size
Bread 1 slice
5 to 6 small crackers
Cereal 1 ounce ready-to-eat cereal
1/2 cup cooked cereal
Rice, pasta 1/2 cup cooked rice or pasta
Vegetables 1 cup raw leafy vegetables
1/2 cup chopped raw vegetables
1/2 cup cooked, chopped vegetables
1/4 cup vegetable juice
Fruits 1 medium piece of fresh fruit (apple, banana, orange, peach)
1/2 cup cooked or canned, chopped fruit
1/2 cup fruit juice
Milk products 1 cup milk
1 cup yogurt
1/2 ounce natural cheese
2 ounces processed cheese
Meat 2 to 3 ounces cooked lean meat
Fish 2 to 3 ounces cooked fish
Poultry 2 to 3 ounces cooked lean poultry
Dry beans 1/2 cup cooked dry beans
Eggs 1 egg
Nuts, seeds 2 tablespoons peanut butter
Fats, oils, sweets No specific amount; use very little

Source: The Food Guide Pyramid (Washington, D.C.: International Food Information Council Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Marketing Institute, 1995).

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