The shape of the Pyramid, widest at the base and narrowest at the tip, makes it easy to visualize the contribution that each group of foods should make to your overall eating plan when you follow the Dietary Guidelines.
The emphasis of the Pyramid is on increasing the proportion of fruits, vegetables, and grains—those foods that form the base of the Pyramid—and decreasing the proportion of higher-fat foods—the ones at the very top—in our diets.
The grain group, which includes bread, cereal, rice, and pasta, forms the broad foundation of the Pyramid to emphasize that grains should be a major contributor to our overall diet. As often as possible, our choices of grain foods should be those made from whole grains, for the most nutritional value. As illustrated by the Pyramid, in addition to grains, our diet should include ample servings of fruits and vegetables.
If our daily need is to be met for vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other important phytochemicals (plant chemicals that are believed to play a role in preventing disease), the bulk of our diets must come from plant foods.
Because of the saturated fat they contain, meats, poultry, and seafood (the high-protein foods) and dairy products (high in protein, calcium, and other minerals) should make a smaller contribution to our daily fare. Foods that occupy the tip of the Pyramid, pure fats (cooking oil, butter, and margarine) and high-fat, high-sugar sweets, are the ones to include only sparingly, like the proverbial icing on the cake.