Magazine article Nutrition Action Healthletter

The Great Pyramid?

Magazine article Nutrition Action Healthletter

The Great Pyramid?

Article excerpt

Here's the "Traditional Healthy Mediterranean Diet Pyramid" put out by the Oldways Preservation & Exchange Trust, the Harvard School of Public Health, and the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe. We've added our comments.

A Few Times per Month

(or somewhat more often in very small amounts)

Red Meat

Sounds good to us. It's rather bold to sharply limit even lean red meat. But frequent red-meat-eaters have higher rates of colon and prostate cancer.

A Few Times per Week




Cutting back wouldn't hurt. Much of the chicken and turkey we eat--the things, the wings, and the skin, fried or not--boosts our saturated fat and cholesterol.


Cheese and Yogurt

If it's not low-fat, the pyramid allows just one cup of yogurt and a quarter-to a half-ounce of cheese a day. We're talking a tablespoon of parmesan here and there, not pizza-as-we-know-it.

Olive Oil

Why not canola? It's also mostly monounsaturated. The pyramid pushes olive oil because the healthy 1960s Cretans were using it--the extra virgin kind, which may contain anti-cancer phyto-chemicals. Canola oil may be just as good.


Variable? Most people assume that the pyramid recommends a 1960s Cretan diet that gets 40 percent of its calories from fat. That's what makes it so controversial. But the pyramid notes that the healthy southern Italians of the 1960s got only 30 percent of their calories from fat, and it cautions that more than 35 percent is "compatible with excellent health...for an active person with no weight problem." Couch potatoes, are you paying attention?


Beans, Other Legumes, and Nuts


Wine in Moderation


Any alcohol, not just wine, raises HDL ("good") cholesterol. …

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