Good news: tea is still part of a healthy diet! The USDA has released a new diagram representing the proportions of protein, vegetables, fruit and grains recommended for healthy daily meals. Instead of the old Food Pyramid, there is now a Food Plate, which augments the First Lady’s Let’s Move anti-obesity program. The new diagram depicts a plate divided into wedges. A small circle, depicting a glass of milk, next to the plate represents dairy. The government has also issued a list of six tips for eating a healthy meal:
1. cover half of your plate with fruits and vegetables.
2. avoid large portions of anything. The government recommends that Americans use smaller plates – 8 inches in diameter instead of 12 inches – for every meal to help with portion control.
3. only eat until you feel 80 percent full, instead of completely full.
4. eat and drink low-fat or fat-free dairy products instead of whole-milk products.
5. get in the habit of reading ingredient and nutrition labels on food packaging, and choose foods with less sodium.
6. Drink unsweetened beverages instead of sweet ones.
While tea, coffee and other beverages aren’t specifically mentioned in the new diagram, the updated guidelines allow for 260 “extra” calories per day, for solid fats, added sugars and alcohol, and tea may or may not be included in this category. The USDA’s interactive MyFood-a-pedia allows the user to look up the calorie content of a specific food, including ones that aren’t easily placed in one of the food categories depicted in the new diagram. Unsweetened tea without milk in it has 2 calories per 6 oz. cup, 53 calories with ½ cup of 1% milk, and 75 calories with whole milk. Sweetened tea has 53 calories per cup, 63 calories with skim milk, and a surprising 91 calories with whole milk! Compare that to one can of a regular sweetened soft drink with 155 calories. According to MyFood-a-pedia, one cup of tea with whole milk and sugar generally has fewer calories than one can of sweetened soft drink. You can see how tea is a great low-calorie beverage when unsweetened or taken without milk, but the calories can definitely add up if you don’t watch out!
Since unsweetened tea without milk or other additions contains only 2 calories per cup, it is also a good choice if you get tired of drinking plain water. Tea is also featured on Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid. In addition, tea contains antioxidants and beneficial minerals, so it is more than just a thirst-quencher!
Copyright 2011, Elizabeth Urbach.
For more information:
“Nutrition Plate unveiled to replace the Food Pyramid” by William Neuman
USDA Food Pyramid
USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans
USDA Key Recommendations for the General Population
USDA Executive Summary of the Dietary Guidelines, 2005
Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid
“Tea and the mold-free diet”
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