The New Food Pyramid
At the start of this year the U.S. government issued a revision of the “food pyramid” which details what types of foods and in what quantities people should consume daily. (It should be noted that this is based on a geographical area with a bias based on the instance of overweight in a given population group. Neither the pyramid nor the body mass ratio is a constant, fixed value for everyone.)
The biggest change was in carbohydrates, which produce sugar and stored fat used to make sugar at a later date. These were moved from the base of the pyramid (largest portion) to the summit (smallest portion).
Sugars provide the fuel the body needs to do work and think. Under the old pyramid people were encouraged to eat roughly three to four items from the carbohydrate group at each meal, including heavy starches such as rice and potatoes. The result of this diet has made American’s fatter than ever.
Under the new pyramid people are being encouraged to not eat as many starches and grains, but to switch to an occasional less complex carbohydrate such as fresh fruits and green vegetables.
The carbohydrate group includes all vegetables, however rice, beans, potatoes, carrots and squash contain the highest levels of starch. Grains are also in this group including cereals and breads. Milk and cheese are also high in carbohydrates. Fruits contain mostly the better sugar sucrose and provide instant energy.
Another big surprise was the lowering of fats down the pyramid to a larger consumption level, but only of “healthy” fats that provide “good cholesterol” and combat heart disease, such as peanut oil (and peanut butter), olive oil and cannola oils. Fats of any type also help to carry nutrients to the cells of the body.
The consumption of meats was discouraged, including fish, which has some of medical people upset, as recent studies show that fish helps to reduce the instance of stroke. Fish is also generally a non-fat food (so long as it is broiled or poached) that doesn’t contain any cholesterol. The next best meat after fish, according to most health experts, is white chicken meat that is broiled. Red meat, while known for ages to produce the worst type of fat for the body, still has some benefits in moderation.
Meats are the largest source of proteins which build new cells in the body, however some oils, fruits, vegetables and grains provide some protein value, but it should be noted that some strains of amino acids that help build the body (these are proteins) are only produced by meats. Some of these strains you can't get anywhere else also only come from red meat. Thus a little lean red meat is a somewhat necessary part of a nutritionally sound diet even though it helps promote heart disease.
The consumption of fiber is also stressed by some health experts despite the fact the body doesn’t actually digest or use this material (it’s another carbohydrate containing the sugar cellulose, which is the primary diet of cow), but fiber has been shown in studies to help prevent colon cancer and probably cleanses the system, so it seems to have some positive benefit for the human body.
It should be noted that the new food pyramid is a government compromise based on statisticl facts, studies with the portion, groups and varieties of foods designed to help reduce fat America. They may also reflect political lobby interests and world needs. Not all dieticians or health experts are totally happy with the new arrangement, especially the way consumption of fish is being discouraged. It should also be noted that schools, food packaging and dietary information will not reflect this new arrangement of the pyramid until next year and that the government may, once again, change the order and portion recomendations at a future date.
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