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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

USDA Dietary Guidelines 2010

The USDA and HHS has already empanelled a new committee for reviewing the US Food Pyramid, and they've already had their first meeting. Interesting, they are taking comments. Many of the earliest commenters are famous proponants of vegetarian diets, based on their analysis of clinical studies on diet and health. There were 10 comments from the National Dairy Council, but all but one have since been deleted. That's a little bit of a surprise. At least fifty-seven comments have been submitted, but only 30 remain.

Many of the commenters seem to feel the dietary guidelines committee might have some conflicts of interest, and might not adhere to the scientific evidence. Then again, there is scientfic evidence that our diet should be low in carbohydrates and high in protein, evidence that it should be high in carbohydrates and low in fat, or that it should have a "Zone" or "South Beach" balance of macronutrients.

It seems that "everyone" agrees that foods that don't raise the blood sugar and insulin too much are a good idea. Which means more green vegetables, less bread. Inflammation has recently been identified as a big problem for health, which means there is a lot of agreement that foods high in antioxidants are good, omega-6 fatty acids are not as good as omega-3 fatty acids, and that mono-unsaturated fatty acids might be the best. There are still some dissenters on the merits of saturated fats, though many researchers seem to agree they are inflammatory and promote heart disease, especially when combined with quick-digesting carbs. I think we all agree that croissants are not an ideal staple food.

There has been a lot of criticism of the 2005 dietary guidelines since it came out, not the least of which has been the emphasis on bread, pasta, and breakfast cereals as a source of carbohydrates for energy.

I'm a little confused myself. I've got Neal Barnard's book in one hand, and the South Beach diet in the other. The doctors behind both diets have done the studies to show that either diet will improve cholesterol and blood suger -- all the risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. Apparantly, either diet is better than the 2005 guidelines.

Which side up will they turn the pyramid in 2010, and will it make any difference at all?


Mel T said...

Hey Family Nutritionist,

This is such an interesting and controversial topic. I can't wait to see what they come up with in 2010. I think we all need some clarity on what a healthy diet is for the coming years - everyone seems pretty confused at present!!

Thanks for this post.

Family Nutritionist said...

So should we leave comments?
Comments from a network of lesser-known food and health blogs?