The New Food Pyramid: One Year Later


One year ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture unveiled MyPyramid—a replacement for the outdated food pyramid. Organic Authority weighed in on the new eating plan, criticizing its oversimplification and inattention to the difference between conventional and organic food. (Click here to view the article.)

The publishers of the Harvard Heart Letter confirm our reservations, stating “although it redecorated and renamed the old pyramid, the USDA didn’t carry out the necessary changes needed to offer clear information on strategies for healthful eating.”

MyPyramid fails to convey key messages from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the document the food pyramid is supposed to represent, and it makes some recommendations that aren’t the best nutrition advice. For example, the guidelines recommend cutting back on animal fats, avoiding harmful trans fats, and limiting intake of salt and added sugars. MyPyramid only urges you to “choose wisely” when it comes to fat and carbohydrates.

MyPyramid’s advice on protein also poses problems. Lumping together red meat, poultry, fish and beans as equally healthful protein sources sidesteps the evidence that eating less red meat and more of the other protein sources offers numerous health benefits.

The good news? MyPyramid does stress physical activity. It also uses common measurements like cups and ounces. And it tries to get away from one-size-fits-all recommendations.

When all is said and done, MyPyramid is not an unbiased source of information. It comes solely from the USDA, the government agency that promotes American agriculture. For better advice, consider the Dietary Guidelines for Americans or the Healthy Eating Pyramid created by Harvard’s Dr. Walter Willett and described in his book, Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy.

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