This website is now published on my
mobileme account. Any opinions expressed, however, are totally my
The original website was published
through the courtesy of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Jim Andris, Sept. 17, 2003.
The Food Pyramid
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and The Deparment of Health and Human
Services jointly publish a set of Dietary Guidelines for Americans. While
the next revision is due in January, 2005, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory
Committee, composed of "prominent experts in nutrition and
health," released a draft of the guidelines late in May of 2004 which
it will continue to revise for the remainder of the year. This draft
was the subject of several newspaper articles. Sally Squires of the Washington
Post has written especially helpful summaries. I summarize below the
results of these articles:
Continue to add healthful foods, such as fruit and vegetables, whole
grains, milk products, and meat and other protein sources.
Add fiber to your diet in the range of 1 oz. per day.
Keep the consumption of foods with cholesterol, saturated fat and
trans fatty acids low.
Pay attention to eating foods with the proper nutrients, especially
vitamins A, C and E as well as folate, calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium.
This would include green, leafy vegetables, orange-colored vegetables,
tomatoes, onions and beans.
Eating fatty, deep-water fish (for its omega-3 fatty acids) can reduce
heart disease, at least two servings a week. However, mercury levels
in some such fish make eating more a problem.
Get at least 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise. People who want
to loose weight may even need more. Vigorous aerobic exercise 20 minutes
three times a week is beneficial too, as is walking for bone density.
The recommendation to limit intake of sugars was dropped from the
guidelines. This was controversial on the committee, however, with
not everyone agreeing. The Committee agreed that sugars are not as
well-regulated by the body as some other foods.
Monitor your weight to determine if your current caloric intake is
achieving your desired healthy weight, and to know if you can have
the occasional "splurge."
Several attempts have been made to revise the government-recommended
food pyramid. Perhaps the most prestigious of these as been put forth
in an article by Walter C. Willett and Meir J. Stampfer, Rebuilding
the Food Pyramid, which was published in Scientific American in January,
2003. Quoting from the online summary, the article argues that
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Guide Pyramid, introduced
in 1992, recommended that people avoid fats but eat plenty of carbohydrate-rich
foods such as bread, cereal, rice and pasta. The goal was to reduce the
consumption of saturated fat, which raises cholesterol levels.
Researchers have found that a high intake of refined carbohydrates
such as white bread and white rice can wreak havoc on the body's
insulin levels. Replacing these carbohydrates with healthy fats--monounsaturated
or polyunsaturated--actually lowers one's risk of heart disease.
Nutritionists are now proposing a new food pyramid that encourages
the consumption of healthy fats and whole grain foods but recommends
refined carbohydrates, butter and red meat.
The image below is loaded directly from the Scientific American website.