As the obesity crisis in the U.S. rises, the USDA food pyramid has been at the forefront of controversy, under fire from nutrition experts and physicians who deem it "wrong." Health researcher Dr. Walter Willett is one of these people who believe the pyramid actually does more harm than good.
His alternative is the Eat, Drink & Be Healthy. As chairman of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, Dr. Willett has done a vast amount of research involving the effects of a healthy diet on disease prevention. He points to findings that show 82 percent of heart attacks, 70 percent of strokes, 90 percent of type 2 diabetes and 70 percent of colon cancer can be warded off by eating the right foods.
Dr. Willett and his associates have assembled their own food guide pyramid based on the most up-to-date science. At the bottom of the pyramid is regular exercise.
The next level is complex carbohydrates such as whole-grains and healthy forms of fat (from vegetable oils). Most calories are derived from some source of carbohydrate and fat. Some of the fats from the top of the pyramid have been moved down to the base.
The pyramid emphasizes fruits and vegetables with the exception of potatoes. There is a level for legumes and nuts. At the top of the pyramid are foods high in saturated fat: red meat, dairy products and dairy fat. Other foods include white bread, white rice, white pasta and sweets which should be used minimally. More than 30 percent of calories should come from healthy fats.