The Food Pyramid
In 1992, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) went further, issuing its Food Guide Pyramid as the beginning of a nationwide project to reeducate Americans about the need for a healthy diet. Dairy products and other protein foods like meat and beans were relegated to a much less important status than carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables, which formed the foundation of the pyramid. At the narrowest part of the pyramid - indicative of the minor role they should play in the diet - were placed fats, oils, and sweets" with the disparaging recommendation, "Use Sparingly."
These dietary guidelines were again updated in 2000 as the fifth edition of Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a joint publication of the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture, and will continue to be updated every five years. The guidelines were expanded to include a number of vital distinctions - like the need for healthy fats (fatty acids) versus the danger of unhealthy fats (saturated fats) - a recommendation for safety measures in storing and preparing foods, and a strong encouragement to exercise as a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle.
USDA Food Guide Pyramid
At about the same time as the USDA Food Guide Pyramid's introduction, studies from around the world began to pour in that correlated the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables with a significantly lowered incidence of heart attack and many types of cancer. The US National Cancer Institute instituted its "5 a Day" program throughout the United States in 1991, recommending five to nine daily servings of fresh fruits and vegetables. Research indicated that this change alone could reduce risk of both heart attack and cancer by as much as 55 percent.