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wise choices food pyramid

Historically, whole foods have been categorized into food groups according to the essential nutrients they have in common. The USDA MyPyramid shows the need for variety, moderation, and balance within the basic groups of grains, vegetables, fruits, oils, dairy, meat and beans, and discretionary calories (or Extras).

MyPyramid also says, “Make smart choices from every food group” and “Get the most nutrition out of your calories”
How do we make the smartest choices to get the most out of the food we eat and feed our families?
The Wise Choices Pyramid can help you select foods within a food group that supply the most nutritional benefit.

What is the Wise Choices Pyramid?
Foods in the Wise Choices Pyramid are ranked, from left to right, within each of the food groups according to their contributions of beneficial and essential nutrients. Use the rankings to make better choices in your diet.

You can substitute some of the foods on the left side of the Wise Choices Pyramid in each food group for ones on the right side to improve your diet.

At the top of the Wise Choices Pyramid are the Extras. Yum! On the right are some typical choices, like potato chips and mayonnaise and creamy salad dressing. On the left shows a group of better choices, like pretzels (instead of potato chips), mustard (instead of mayo), and vinaigrette dressing (instead of the creamy types).  We all need to limit our Extras, but we can also make better choices within the Extras as a way to improve our diets.

MyPyramid, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and the Wise Choices Food Pyramid recommendations are for the general public over 2 years of age. The Wise Choices Food Pyramid is not a therapeutic diet. Individuals with a chronic health condition should consult their health care provider to develop an appropriate individual diet. The Wise Choices Pyramid reflects current knowledge about the foods depicted. A particular food’s exact location on the Wise Choices Food Pyramid continuum is not fixed and could change as evidence evolves.

Weigh in on the concept of ranking foods! Email us here about the Wise Choices Food Pyramid. What do you think? Are some foods healthier than others? How can it be improved? How do you use the tool?

Scientific background of the Wise Choices Pyramid
The Wise Choices Food Pyramid is based on the most compelling scientific information currently available on healthy diets and functional foods. The Wise Choices Food Pyramid was created using scientific recommendations for including in our diets healthy foods that have additional benefits related to important chronic disease risk and that are nutrient dense. The evidence we used to rank foods for the Wise Choices Food Pyramid came from*: 

Publications about Wise Choices Pyramid:

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Order your own 18x24 inch color poster of the Wise Choices Pyramid direct from the University of Montana bookstore’s secure site at:

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