| 6.1°C Dublin

Dieters note... alcohol is now top of the food pyramid

ALCOHOL is now included for the first time on the top of the Department of Health's food pyramid because of its high calorie content and low nutritional value.

Health Minister James Reilly said that the top shelf of the food pyramid has changed. It outlines foods which are high in fat, sugar and salt.

"The revised guidelines now focus on typical foods and drinks from this shelf that contain approximately 100 calories, and the need to restrict servings per day to one serving maximum," he said.

The Department's guide is entitled Your Guide To Healthy Eating Using The Food Pyramid.

The minister said: "Focusing specifically on reducing top shelf foods and drinks is the Department of Health's key healthy eating message. Alcohol is now included on the top shelf as it provides calories," he said.

The department's booklet has at the top of its food pyramid foods and drinks that are high in fat, sugar and salt. It says there are no recommended servings for this group because they are not essential.

It advised that people should limit what they eat from this shelf to no more than one serving a day maximum and ideally not every day. It said that one glass of beer, lager, wine and spirits contains about 100 to 150 calories.

Meanwhile, there was advice about caffeine during pregnancy. It said that "women who are pregnant, or planning a pregnancy should take no more than 200mg of caffeine per day. This is roughly one to two cups of coffee or two to four cups of tea".