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Researcher Blasts USDA Food Pyramid

A new food pyramid, based on the latest research, has been proposed to replace the United States Department of Agriculture Model.  It comes out of the Harvard School of Public Health, where Dr. Walter Willett says the USDA pyramid's first mistake is to restrict all fats:

Dr. Willett: "Lots of people, because of that, are avoiding healthy fats in their diet...the unsaturated fats in the form of nuts...vegetable oils...that reduce our blood cholesterol levels and prevent heart attacks."

And Dr. Willett says the USDA pyramid tells us to load up on so-called "complex carbohydrates," such as pasta:

Dr. Willett: "Most of the complex carbohydrates in the American diet are refined grain sources which are related to higher risk of heart disease and diabetes."

Dr. Willett says that includes most breakfast cereals, like one his niece recently brought home:

Dr. Willett: "It was basically sugar, virtually no fiber...it was made with partially hydrogenated vegetable fat...I mean it's egregious that we allow our kids to be exposed to that kind of marketing."

Willett also faults the USDA for recommending two to three daily servings of dairy products:

Dr. Willett: "Whereas there's really no good evidence that that has heath benefits.  There actually may be some downsides to high dairy product consumption."

The new Harvard pyramid also includes guidance on daily exercise and weight control.  For more information, click here.

[Dr. Willett's book, Eat, Drink and Be Healthy, is published by Simon and Schuster, and was co-developed with the Harvard School of Public Health.]

Created: 10/10/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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