U.S. Food Pyramid Historically Faulty

If you want to get a better understanding about why I believe the United States Department of Agriculture's Dietary Guidelines for Americans -- aka the Food Guide Pyramid -- are so faulty, you could blame a good deal of the problem (apart from the typical conflicts of interest) on half-century old research by nutritionist Ancel Keys that first linked dietary fat to cardiovascular disease.

As a result of nutritionists buying into Keys' "lipid hypothesis," Americans were soon encouraged to substitute the vegetable-based fats in lieu of animal fats and avoid red meat completely, because its fats contained cholesterol that was also deemed unhealthy. Interestingly enough, when Keys published his analysis that claimed to prove the link between dietary fats and coronary heart disease, he selectively analyzed information from only six countries to prove his correlation, rather than compare all the data available at the time from 22 countries.

As a result of this "cherry-picked" data, many dietary fallacies remain alive and well in conventional medicine:

  • The pyramid considers protein to be the least important of the macronutrients.
  • The myth of polyunsaturated fats remains unexplained.
  • The over-reliance on processed grains and sugars to make up the majority of carbohydrates one consumes daily, rather than getting them from whole foods.
  • The pyramid completely ignores the essential fatty acids, including alpha-linolenic (ALA), linoleic (LA), eicosapentaenoic (EPA), docosahexaenoic (DHA) and Arachidonic acids (AA).

Journal of the American Physicians and Surgeons, Winter 2004: 109-113 Free full-text article

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