Ultimate Food Pyramid

Ultimate Food Pyramid


Practically everyone knows about the food pyramid and there are a vast number of those that don’t feel that it has been very accurate. Well, we (like everyone else) have our own opinions about these things, and so we researched to find out how right or wrong our opinion was… In doing so, we stumbled upon some very interesting information from the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source. We hope you’ll be as intrigued as we were with what we found…

Many of us have grown up with the classic known food pyramid shown to the right. With serving size suggestions as follows:

  • 6-11 servings of bread, cereal, rice, and pasta
  • 3-5 servings of vegetables
  • 2-4 servings of fruits
  • 2-3 servings of meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dry beans, and nuts
  • 2-3 servings of milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • use sparingly fats, oils, and sweets

However, a lot has changed over the years though there has not been nearly as much publicity about it as maybe there should have been to let people know that they don’t need to be eating 6 to 11 servings of carbohydrates a day… Check out some of the new and maybe eye opening information that we have come across!

See the information below that we collected from the Harvard School of Public Health website.

Food Pyramids: What Should You Really Eat?

– information from Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source

Copyright © 2008. For more information about The Healthy Eating Pyramid, please see The Nutrition Source, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, http://www.thenutritionsource.org, and Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy, by Walter C. Willett, M.D. and Patrick J. Skerrett (2005), Free Press/Simon & Schuster Inc.

5 Quick Tips – for following the Healthy Eating Pyramid

  1. Start with exercise. A healthy diet is built on a base of regular exercise, which keeps calories in balance and weight in check. Read five quick tips for staying active and getting to your healthy weight, and a dozen ideas for fitting exercise into your life.
  2. Focus on food, not grams. The Healthy Eating Pyramid doesn’t worry about specific servings or grams of food, so neither should you. It’s a simple, general guide to how you should eat when you eat.
  3. Go with plants. Eating a plant-based diet is healthiest. Choose plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats, like olive and canola oil. Check out these delicious healthy recipes that bring the Healthy Eating Pyramid into your kitchen.
  4. Cut way back on American staples. Red meat, refined grains, potatoes, sugary drinks, and salty snacks are part of American culture, but they’re also really unhealthy. Go for a plant-based diet rich in non-starchy vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. And if you eat meat, fish and poultry are the best choices.
  5. Take a multivitamin, and maybe have a drink. Taking a multivitamin can be a good nutrition insurance policy. Moderate drinking for many people can have real health benefits, but it’s not for everyone. Those who don’t drink shouldn’t feel that they need to start. Read about balancing alcohol’s risks and benefits.

We can’t look at a pyramid these days without thinking of food and healthy eating. There was the U.S. government’s Food Guide Pyramid, followed by its replacement, My Pyramid, which was basically the same thing, just pitched on its side. The problem was that these efforts, while generally well intentioned, have been quite flawed at actually showing people what makes up a healthy diet. Why? Their recommendations have often been based on out-of-date science and influenced by people with business interests in their messages.

But, there’s a better alternative: the Healthy Eating Pyramid, built by the faculty in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health as shown above.

Based on the latest science, and unaffected by businesses and organizations with a stake in its messages, the Healthy Eating Pyramid is a simple, trustworthy guide to choosing a healthy diet. Its foundation is daily exercise and weight control, since these two related elements strongly influence your chances of staying healthy. The Healthy Eating Pyramid builds from there, showing that you should eat more foods from the bottom part of the pyramid (vegetables, whole grains) and less from the top (red meat, refined grains, sugary drinks, and salt).

Nutrition Source: Introduction

More than a decade and a half ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) created a powerful and
enduring icon: the Food Guide Pyramid. This simple illustration conveyed in a flash what the USDA said
were the elements of a healthy diet. The Pyramid was taught in schools, appeared in countless media
articles and brochures, and was plastered on cereal boxes and food labels.

Tragically, the information embodied in this pyramid didn’t point the way to healthy eating. Why not? Its
blueprint was based on shaky scientific evidence, and it barely changed over the years to reflect major
advances in our understanding of the connection between diet and health.

With much fanfare, in 2005, the USDA retired the old Food Guide Pyramid and replaced it with
MyPyramid, a new symbol and “interactive food guidance system.” The new symbol is basically the old
Pyramid turned on its side.

The good news is that this dismantles and buries the flawed Pyramid. The bad news is that the new
symbol doesn’t convey enough information to help you make informed choices about your diet and
long-term health. And it continues to recommend foods that aren’t essential to good health, and may even
be detrimental in the quantities included in MyPyramid.

As an alternative to the USDA’s flawed pyramid, faculty members at the Harvard School of Public Health built the Healthy Eating Pyramid. It resembles the USDA’s in shape only. The Healthy Eating Pyramid takes into consideration, and puts into perspective, the wealth of research conducted during the last 15 years that has reshaped the definition of healthy eating.


Dietary Guidelines 2005: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Released in early January 2005, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 continues to reflect the tense
interplay of science and the powerful food industry. Several of the recommendations in the current version represent important steps in the right direction:

  • The current guidelines emphasize the importance of controlling weight, which was not adequately addressed in previous versions. And they continue to stress the importance of physical activity.
  • The recommendation on dietary fats makes a clear break from the past, when all fats were considered bad. The guidelines now emphasize that intake of trans fats should be as low as possible and that saturated fat should be limited. There is no longer an artificially low cap on fat intake. The latest advice recommends getting between 20 and 35 percent of daily calories from fats and recognizes the potential
    health benefits of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
  • Instead of emphasizing “complex carbohydrates,” a term used in the past that has little biological meaning, the new guidelines urge Americans to limit sugar intake and they stress the benefits of whole grains.

Others remain mired in the past:

  • The guidelines suggest that it is fine to consume half of our grains as refined starch. That’s a shame, since refined starches, such as white bread and white rice, behave like sugar. They add empty calories, have adverse metabolic effects, and increase the risks of diabetes and heart disease.
  • In terms of protein, the guidelines continue to lump together red meat, poultry, fish, and beans
    (including soy products). They ask us to judge these protein sources by their total fat content, and
    “make choices that are lean, low-fat, or fat-free.” This ignores the evidence that these foods have different types of fats. It also overlooks mounting evidence that replacing red meat with a combination
    of fish, poultry, beans, and nuts offers numerous health benefits.
  • The recommendation to drink three glasses of low-fat milk or eat three servings of other dairy products per day to prevent osteoporosis is another step in the wrong direction. Of all the recommendations, this one represents the most radical change from current dietary patterns. Three glasses of low-fat milk a day amounts to more than 300 extra calories a day. This is a real issue for the millions of Americans who are trying to control their weight. What’s more, millions of Americans are lactose intolerant, and even small amounts of milk or dairy products give them stomachaches, gas, or other problems. This recommendation ignores the lack of evidence for a link between consumption of dairy products and prevention of osteoporosis. It also ignores the possible increases in risk of ovarian cancer and prostate cancer associated with dairy products.

Dietary Guidelines 2010: Stay Tuned

What is on the horizon for the next version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, due out before the end of 2010? The scientific advisory committee for the 2010 guidelines released its report on June 15, 2010. The committee recommended that the next iteration of the guidelines call for reducing overall calorie intake across the U.S. population and increasing physical activity to reduce the number of Americans who are overweight or obese; shifting to a more plant-based diet; and reducing the intake of foods containing added sugars and solid fats (which deliver calories but few nutrients), excess salt, and highly refined grains. It remains to be seen how these recommendations will be distilled into the final guidelines. Read more at [Harvard School of Public Health's site]

To see thoughts on the new USDA Pyramid, MyPyramid, and why it’s not thought too fondly of, go to [Harvard School of Public Health's site].

Also, check out the afore mentioned [MyPyramid].

Terms of Use: The aim of the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source is to provide timely information on diet and nutrition for clinicians, allied health professionals, and the public. The contents of this Web site are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Web site. The information does not mention brand names, nor does it endorse any particular products.

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