A year ago this month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
unveiled MyPyramid, its replacement for the outdated food pyramid. But
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, reports the April issue of the Harvard Heart Letter.
MyPyramid fails to convey key messages from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans,
the document that the food pyramid is supposed to represent, and it
makes some recommendations that aren’t the best nutrition advice, says
the Harvard Heart Letter. 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
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, the Harvard Heart Letter recommends 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.