Food pyramid


As an orientation how a healthy, wholesome diet is designed, it is a valuable aid as a scheme.

The DGE (German Society for Nutrition) developed the Nutrition Circle for this purpose, but the nutrition pyramid developed by American scientists turned out to be more understandable. It shows that all foods are allowed if the consumption quantities are correct.

The pyramid makes it clear which foods should be used in abundance, moderately or only sparingly. It also signals that the daily menu should be as varied as possible.

Food groups in the food pyramid and the valuable nutrients they contain

The Base of the pyramid form:

  1. Cereals and cereal products
    Grain and grain products form the basis of nutrition. They should be part of every meal. At least 1 serving of bread, breakfast cereals (such as flakes or muesli), pasta or rice with each meal.
    When choosing, whole grain products should be given priority. A wholegrain content of 50% should be aimed for.
    Valuable nutrients: complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein, Vitamins (especially B vitamins), Minerals (especially magnesium and potassium)
  2. Vegetables, potatoes and lettuce
    Up to three large servings (up to 1kg) per day
    Vegetables and salads, if possible according to the seasonal offer, should always be consumed fresh and sometimes as raw vegetables. Cook the potatoes in their skins if possible and prepare them with low fat content.
    Valuable nutrients: Complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins (especially vitamin C and carotenoids), minerals (especially potassium)
  3. fruit
    At least 3 pieces of fruit a day. Prefer fresh fruit and pay attention to seasonal availability and freshness.
    Valuable nutrients: carbohydrates, vitamin C, mineral potassium
  4. milk and milkproducts
    Prefer at least ¼ l milk and 3 slices of cheese (exchangeable for quark, yoghurt, cream cheese), low-fat products and preparations every day.
    Valuable nutrients: Protein, vitamins A, D and B vitamins), minerals (especially iron, iodine and zinc)
  5. Meat, poultry, sausage, fish, eggs
    Two to three times a week meat or sausage (approx. 125g each), 1 - 2 times a week fish and up to three eggs.
    Here, too, diversify the menu and prefer low-fat varieties.
    Valuable nutrients: Protein, vitamins A, D and B, minerals (especially iron, iodine and zinc)
  6. fats and oils
    Enjoy in moderation. 1-2 tablespoons of butter or margarine and 1-2 tablespoons of high quality vegetable oil per day. Give preference to high quality vegetable oils.
    Valuable nutrients: Essential fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins (especially vitamins E and D)
    Form the top of the pyramid:
  7. Luxury food
    Enjoy sweets, cakes, chips and alcohol in small quantities.
    No more than 1 bar of chocolate, a small piece of cake, 1 handful of potato chips, 1/8 l red wine and the like more every day.
    Adequate hydration is also recommended.
  8. beverages
    It is usually recommended to drink at least 1½ to 2 liters of fluid daily. The need for fluids can increase considerably in the event of heat, physical exertion, sport or fever.
    Mineral water, unsweetened herbal or fruit tea and fruit juice spritzer are best suited.
    coffee and black tea should not play a role in the fluid balance. One speaks more of luxury foods than of drinks to quench thirst. Milk is also not considered a drink; it appears in milk and milk products as a protein carrier and food and not in the fluid balance.

The nutrient density

To assess the Quality of a food, taking into account the energy content, the nutrient density is used. It results from the quotient of the nutrient content (related to a certain nutrient e.g. Calcium) and calorific value of the respective food.

The nutrient density is important for an energy-limited but nutrient-rich diet. The result is: the higher the nutrient density, the more favorable the ratio of energy content to the presence of a certain nutrient.

Formula for calculating the nutrient density:

Nutrient content (mg / mg / g per 100 g of food)

Nutrient density (mg / mg / g) = ------------------------

Calorific value (mJ per 100 g of food)

mJ = thousandth of a joule

This means that fruit and vegetables have the greatest nutrient density due to their low energy content. Naturally, the lowest nutrient density is found in foods that are rich in fat and sugar, such as sweets, cakes, etc. They have a very high energy content and a very low nutrient density. One also speaks of so-called "empty calories“.

In addition, low-fat, animal foods have a more favorable nutrient density than the high-fat products.

The energy density

The energy density describes the ratio of the calorie content to the amount of a certain food. It indicates the amount of calories per gram.

The energy density is always highest when a very small amount of food supplies a lot of energy (kcal) and always lowest when large amounts of a food supply only very little energy (kcal).

The energy density is calculated from:
Calorie content (kcal) divided by the amount in grams

Example energy density

50 g of milk chocolate contain an average of 280 kcal.

One calculates: 280 divided by 50 = 5.6 as the energy density.

500 g cauliflower contain approx. 115 kcal and this results in 0.2 as the energy density.

The following overview shows the classification of the various energy densities:

  • Energy density up to 1.5 kcal / gram = low energy density
  • Energy density 1.6 to 2.4 kcal / gram = mean energy density
  • Energy density from 2.5 kcal / gram = high energy density

In calorie tables or nutritional analyzes, the Calories always specified for 100 g. For example: 100 g of cream cheese (cream) 189 kcal. Divide by 100 and get 1.8 as the energy density.

It is easy to see that the Assessment of food The recommendations for a healthy diet and weight loss do not change according to their energy density, but remain the same as before. You just give the child a different name.

The low-energy foods are water-rich, low-calorie foods, primarily vegetables and fruits.

Lean meat and fish and lean dairy products have a medium energy density.

The foods with a very high energy density are those rich in fat and sugar, such as sweets and cakes.

Be careful with drinks! They contain a lot of water and if they are judged by their energy density, Coca Cola, lemonade, juice etc. are also okay. These drinks contain sugar, don't fill you up and 500 ml of orange juice or cola add up to around 400 calories.

So don't judge drinks by their energy density! All calorie-free drinks such as water, mineral water, unsweetened herbal tea and thin juice spritzers are ideal thirst quenchers.

Further information

More interesting information

  • nutrition
  • Obesity
  • Lose weight
  • Obesity and psychology
  • Body mass indexBody mass index / BMI
  • Wholesome nutrition
  • Assessment of body weight
  • Adipose tissue
  • Determination of body fat
  • Nutritional therapy

All topics that have been published on the field of internal medicine can be found at: Internal medicine A-Z