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"A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools."
-Spanish Proverb

 

What's wrong with this picture?

The Food Guide Pyramid has come under some harsh criticism in recent years by many scientists, nutritionists and medical researchers. They say it is outdated, gives misinformation, and at worst, can lead to obesity and health problems. How can this be? What is so wrong with this once highly-acclaimed food pyramid?

 

Faults of the USDA's Pyramid


According to Harvard scientist Dr. Walter Willett, the food pyramid is not up-to-date with current nutritional research. He states six faults of the food pyramid that are misleading American people, and adding to the growing epidemic of obesity.


1.All fats are bad. NOT TRUE! Only certain fats are bad for you (saturated and trans fats), while others (monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats) provide many benefits to your heart. Some of these good fats are found in nuts, fish, olive oil and whole grains.

2. All complex carbohydrates are good. NOT TRUE! The food pyramid recommends six to eleven servings of carbohydrates a day, which is way too much. It also doesn't differentiate between the two kinds of carbohydrates: simple carbohydrates (sugars) and complex carbohydrates (starches). The majority of a person's carbohydrate intake should come from whole grains (complex carbs), which will make you feel fuller longer and give you a lot of fiber as well. Stay away from refined carbohydrates, which are things like cookies, crackers and chips. If you eat those, eat them in moderation.

3. Protein is protein. NOT TRUE! Protein should be a key component of your diet. But some sources of protein are better for you than others. For example red meat (steaks) may have a good amount of protein, but they also are high in cholesterol and saturated fat, which is not good for your heart! Fish, chicken, turkey and pork are lower in saturated fat, and have just as much protein. Even beans and nuts are great sources of protein that people wouldn't necessarily know about.

4. Dairy products are essential. NOT TRUE! Dr. Willett says that despite all the commercials advertising protection against osteoporosis, there really isn't a calcium emergency in America. Our country gets more calcium than any other country. In reality, he says, there are even studies that suggest that drinking/eating a lot of dairy sources can possibly increase a man's chance of getting prostate cancer or a woman getting ovarian cancer. But, you still need some calcium in your diet, and you don't have to get it from milk or yogurt. Spinach, tofu, orange juice and broccoli have calcium and extra nutrients. Or, you can take a calcium supplement, which may be cheaper and lower in calories than dairy products.

5. Eat your potatoes. NOT TRUE! Potatoes are starches, not vegetables! A baked potato increases blood sugar levels and insulin faster and to higher levels than an equal amount of calories from pure table sugar. And french fries are even worse. So, if you are going to eat potatoes, eat them in moderation.

6. No guidance on weight, exercise, alcohol, and vitamins. While the food pyramid suggests how to plan a healthy diet, it doesn't mention four other key parts of maintaining a healthy body: the importance of not gaining weight, the necessity of daily exercise, the potential health benefits of a daily alcoholic drink, and what you can gain by taking a daily multivitamin.


 

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