January 22, 2012
Since 1974, when the first food pyramid was appeared in Sweden, triangular or pyramid-shaped nutrition guides have been used by 25 other countries and organizations. I found a great graphic over at Huffington Post that depicts some of the more popular food pyramids from around the world, and although America now uses the MyPlate design many countries around the world still use a food pyramid to dole out nutrition advice.
Interestingly, a consistent pattern in food pyramids around the globe, from China's Food Pagoda to Greece's Food Pyramid, is the appearance of cereals, grains, bread, pasta and other starchy carbohydrates as the base of the diet – and fats near the top of the pyramid, as a “use sparingly” category.
But this type of pyramid can lead to health problems. After all, dietary fat from healthy sources has been shown in studies to actually help to increase weight loss, reduce heart disease risk, lower blood sugars, lower cholesterols and maintain proper brain function (especially in kids).
And if you listened to my interview with Dr. William Davis, “The Shocking Truth About Wheat”, or my interview with Paul Jaminet about the Perfect Health Diet you learned that consumption of carbohydrates can cause serious issues with everything from weight gain to fuzzy thinking to heart disease.
But the issues don't stop with the predominantly “high carb, low fat” recommendations of most food pyramids. Frequent consumption of featured and recommended foods such as commercialized modern whole milk and hamburger has been linked to heart disease…
…dairy is extremely overemphasized – although calcium is important, many vegetable and meat sources contain plenty of calcium with a lower number of calories….
…there is no differentiation between “good proteins” and “bad proteins”, “good carbs” and “bad carbs” or “good fats” and “bad fats”…
…and the minimum serving of fruits is 2-4, which is a great way to send your blood sugar levels on a roller coaster ride all day long if you're not careful.
Furthermore, when it comes to the American food pyramid, we've barely scratched the surface of how food and agricultural institutions can exert lobbying and political power on the USDA to feature and prioritize subsidized industries such as dairy, corn and wheat as heavily featured or highlighted recommendations (a great book to read more about these shenanigans is “Food Politics“).
So what should a good food pyramid actually look like?
Although I have yet to be convinced that a food pyramid is the best, most functional way to dynamically depict dietary recommendations, I've decided to act on hundreds of requests from readers and listeners and create a “Ben Greenfield Endorsed” food pyramid.
I call my new design the “Superhuman Food Pyramid”, and this new food pyramid address all the issues above, ties in my personal nutritional philosophies that I've expressed many times in blog posts and podcasts, and also gives you a spectrum of choices from “Eat” to “Moderate” to “Avoid” for each food group, so that you don't have to deal, for example, with “Fats” lumped into just one category, or “Proteins” just lumped into another category.
To make it easier to practically apply my Superhuman Food Pyramid to your diet, I've also included several pages listing each food category and the Eat, Moderate, and Avoid foods within that category, so you can simply print, grab and go to the grocery store or farmer's market with your Superhuman Food list.
You instantly get my Superhuman Food Pyramid for free when you click the button below and share on Twitter or Facebook. [Note: Your timeline/feed must be public for our system to verify your post or tweet].
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