Task 5: Key Concepts About the MyPyramid Equivalents Database

The MyPyramid Equivalents Database (MPED) is a tool to help researchers examine dietary recall data in terms of MyPyramid-defined food groups and portion units.  All foods in the FNDDS identified by food codes (e.g., lasagna) have been disaggregated into their component ingredients (e.g., pasta, mozzarella, beef) and these ingredients have been converted to equivalent amounts of relevant MyPyramid food groups (e.g., grains, milk, meat).  MPED contains data for all USDA survey food codes available for use with any nationwide dietary intake survey conducted from 1994 onward.

MyPyramid replaced the Food Guide Pyramid in January 2005.  MPED, which was released in late 2006, supersedes all versions of its predecessor, the Pyramid Servings Database.  

MyPyramid uses cups and ounces as the standard portion units.  It identifies equivalent amounts (i.e. “cup equivalents” and “ounce equivalents”) of those measures for foods in the USDA databases.  These equivalents are used in coding and processing food intakes from nationwide dietary surveys in order to standardize the foods in the group to a nutritionally equivalent metric.  Note that the Pyramid Servings Database data were in terms of number of “servings.”

Data in MPED are of two general types: food data and intake data.


Food data

These data provide the number of MyPyramid Equivalents per 100 grams of food for the 32 MyPyramid food groups listed in the table below with their respective measures. Food mixtures are separated into their ingredients before MyPyramid Equivalents are calculated.


MyPyramid Food Groups and Measures

MyPyramid Food Group


Total grain

Ounce equivalents

Whole grain

Non-whole grain

Total vegetables

Cup equivalents

Dark-green vegetables

Orange vegetables

White potatoes

Other starchy vegetables


Other vegetables

Total fruits

Citrus fruits, melons, and berries

Other fruits

Total milk products (milk, yogurt & cheese)1




Meat, poultry, fish

Ounces cooked lean meat

Meat (beef, pork, veal, lamb, game)

Organ meats (meat, poultry)

Frankfurters, sausage, luncheon meats (made from meat or poultry)

Poultry (chicken, turkey, other)

Fish and shellfish high in omega-3 fatty acids

Fish and shellfish low in omega-3 fatty acids


Ounce equivalents of lean meat


Soybean products (tofu, meat analogs)

Nuts and seeds

Cooked dry beans and peas2

Cup equivalents of vegetables or ounce equivalents of meat

Discretionary oil


Discretionary solid fat

Added sugars

Teaspoon equivalents


Number of alcoholic drinks

1 Formerly called Total Dairy.

   2 Cooked dry beans and peas may be counted in either the vegetables group or the meat and beans group.  Note that cooked dry beans and peas should not be counted in both groups at the same time.

To illustrate, the food code 11542100, "Carry-out milk shake, chocolate," has values of .343 cup equivalents of total milk (milk, yogurt & cheese), .343 cup equivalents of milk, .631 grams of discretionary oil, 2.986 grams of discretionary solid fat, and 3.327 teaspoon equivalents of added sugars. This food code has zero values for all other food groups because this food contains no MyPyramid equivalents for those groups.


Intake data

These data represent the number of MyPyramid equivalents provided by each food eaten per individual and daily totals per individual.  They are derived by applying MPED food data to intake data.  Modification codes are also considered in the derivation of intake data in the MPED.

MPED includes data for the 1994-96 and 1998 Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals (CSFII) and is updated to include new information for each 2-year release of NHANES data starting in 1999-2000.



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