Food Guide Pyramid Needs Makeover, Say Nutritionists
Group Recommends More Whole-Grain Foods, Less Emphasis on Meat, and Removal of Milk Category
WASHINGTON— Nutritionists at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine are calling on the government to revise the Food Guide Pyramid to better reflect the growing body of evidence that a vegetarian diet, rich in whole grains, offers the most disease protection of any dietary pattern. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion recently initiated a reassessment of the Pyramid.
PCRM outlined three key revisions in a letter sent to the agency today:
1. Delete the Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese Group.
Given the lack of scientific consensus that dairy consumption is beneficial and the fact that no other food group in the Pyramid is focused on a specific nutrient (i.e., calcium), PCRM recommends eliminating the Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese group. This is especially important in light of recent studies linking dairy product intake to an increased risk of prostate cancer and new research contradicting the long-standing but poorly supported notion that dairy product consumption protects against bone loss.
2. Emphasize plant sources of protein.
PCRM recommends changing the name of the Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs, and Nuts Group to the Beans, Nuts, Eggs, and Meat Group to emphasize the healthier protein choices. Beans and nuts are cholesterol free and have been shown to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. A diet low in or free of animal products also helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis, kidney stones, and colon cancer.
3. Promote whole grains.
Because Americans eat far too little fiber, PCRM advises renaming the Bread, Cereal, Rice, and Pasta Group the Whole-Grain Foods Group. Switching from refined grains to whole-grain foods is an easy way to boost fiber. People who consume a diet rich in whole grains are at lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.