August 25, 2009

Healthy Food Pyramid is making you fat

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 They say it is outdated, gives misinformation, and at worst, can lead to obesity and health problems.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?

According to Harvard scientist Dr. Walter Willett, the food pyramid is not up-to-date with current nutritional research. He states the food pyramid is misleading us and adding to the growing obesity epidemic.

Dr Willett's first observation was that the food pyramid suggests how to plan a healthy diet, but does not 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.

As well as this, he broke open the following myths:


All Fats are Bad - FALSE

Only certain fats are bad for you (trans and saturated fats), while others (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) provide many benefits to your heart. Some of these good fats are found in nuts, fish, olive oil and wholegrains.


You need to eat a lot of bread, pasta, rice and cereal - FALSE

The food pyramid recommends six to eleven servings of carbohydrates per day, which is way too much! The pyramid does not differentiate between simple carbohydrates (sugars) and complex carbohydrates (starches). Dr. Willett's research says that the majority of a person's carbohydrate intake should come from whole grains (complex carbs), which will make you feel fuller for longer - due to their high fibre content.

Stay away from refined grains, white rice, bread, pasta and potatoes. Instead choose brown rice, whole wheat pasta and oats.


Protein is not that important, and can come from any meat - FALSE

Protein is a key component of a healthy diet, as it is the building block for muscle. It's just that some proteins are better for you than others. For example red meats (steak) may have a good amount of protein, but they are also high in cholesterol and saturated fat, which is bad for your heart!

Choose fish, chicken, turkey and pork, as they are lower in saturated fat and have just as much protein. Beans and nuts are great sources of protein as well.

If you live on the sunshine coast, visit the website of upper cuts meats to get your meat delivered to your door. We aboslutely love the service we receive from Helen and the team, and are always impressed by the quality of the meats provided, at a fraction of the supermarket cost.


Dairy products are essential - FALSE

Dr. Willett says that despite the TV and newspaper commercials advertising the need for dairy products to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, you can get your calcium from other sources without the calories. Spinach, broccoli, tofu and oranges have calcium. As stated before, you may be best to take a multivitamin to get all the nutrients and vitamins that you need as the most cost effective strategy.


Eat your potatoes - FALSE

Potatoes are starches, not vegetables.

[box type="warning"] A baked potato increases blood sugar levels and insulin faster and to higher levels than an equal amount of calories from pure table sugar![/box]

So kids, print out the following food pyramid, take it to school and teach your teacher something!

Eat well, be strong and live long.