Should The New Food Pyramid Reflect A Low Carb Diet?

A growing body of evidence is pointing to the idea that the national food pyramid has contributed to epidemics of obesity and diabetes, and now experts say that a new version currently in the works should reflect a low carb diet.

The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) are grain heavy and promote a low fat diet, yet according to Dr. Walter Willett, chair of the department of nutrition at Harvard’s School of Public Health, that could be part of the problem.

“The focus on reducing fat in the DGAs implicitly led to higher carbs,” Willett said, according to the Examiner, adding, “And that became problematic, because the vast majority of carbs in the U.S. are refined and bad for you.” As The Huffington Post notes, studies have linked refined carbs to obesity and diabetes, and since the food pyramid was first introduced, rates of those diseases have “skyrocketed.”

The national food pyramid is currently being revamped, with various subcommittees working to improve it by 2015. The new pyramid will reflect “more current evidence,” according to Trish Britten, a nutritionist with the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Researchers also say they want the new pyramid to take into account the quality of food, as well as how it is manufactured. Experts like Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, contend that the processing of meat is more important to consider than its fat content.

The previous pyramid isn’t just outdated, some experts say, but also flawed. Denise Minger, author of Death by Food Pyramid: How Shoddy Science, Sketchy Politics and Shady Special Interests Have Ruined Our Health, contends that outside concerns played too large a role in the construction of the food pyramid:

“The pyramid wasn’t designed exclusively with human health in mind: it was also shaped by the country’s economic state – a casualty of the USDA’s catch-22 duty of protecting agricultural interests while also supporting human health.”

As The Inquisitr has noted, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services introduced a food plate in 2010 to replace the food pyramid, emphasizing smaller portions and encouraging the need to make fruits and vegetables a larger part of a healthy diet. Experts say this doesn’t go far enough, however, and would like the new guidelines to take a stronger stand against processed foods.

Minger recommends a Paleo-style diet, which ditches carbs in favor of foods with higher concentrations of healthy fats. She points to “nuts, avocado, bone marrow, organ meats, fish eggs, oily seafood like salmon, coconut, egg yolks, and dairy from animals eating very good diets,” as examples. As for the food pyramid, she says it fosters “the impression that starchy foods — even heavily processed and refined ones — are a dietary free-for-all, while fat is inherently harmful. It’s taken decades to finally start reversing that mentality and dissolve the fat-phobia instilled by the pyramid.”

[Image via truTrainer Fitness Blog]