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'Death by Food Pyramid' slams grains: Paleo, high fat, low carb diets win

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Is the great American food pyramid actually the grains-gone-wrong food pyramid? Denise Minger says yes, and she explains why in her new book: "Death by Food Pyramid: How Shoddy Science, Sketchy Politics and Shady Special Interests Have Ruined Our Health" (click for details).

We talked with Denise in an exclusive interview about her views.

"The pyramid wasn't designed exclusively with human health in mind: it was also shaped by the country's economic state -- a casualty of the USDA's catch-22 duty of protecting agricultural interests while also supporting human health," declares Denise.

And the problem with that: "The most profitable foods tend to be the worst ones for our bodies."

Denise contends that the grain-heavy food pyramid, which recommends six to eleven servings of grains, is an overload of starchy food with no evidence of its merits.

Moreover, the restriction on fat implemented in the pyramid is dangerous to our health, says Denise.

"USDA nutritionists thought distinguishing between different types of fats -- like the monounsaturated fat found in olive oil, the omega-3s in fish, the saturated fat in dairy -- would be too confusing for Americans, so they tried to simplify the message by restricting fat categorically. That robbed us of a lot of incredibly nutritious foods and fat-soluble vitamins."

If you rely only on the current food pyramid, you are left with "the impression that starchy foods -- even heavily processed and refined ones -- are a dietary free-for-all, while fat is inherently harmful. It's taken decades to finally start reversing that mentality and dissolve the fat-phobia instilled by the pyramid."

So what should you eat for weight loss and health? Get over that fat-phobia, says Denise, and embrace the wonders of healthy fats and protein.

Denise recommends a Paleo-style diet, which is low in starchy carbs and high in healthy fats. Her keys to a good diet:

  • Fresh produce -- colorful vegetables, dark leafy greens, raw fruit
  • Nuts like almonds and walnuts
  • A wide intake of meat, particularly "in the form of grass-fed and free-range animal products that have been gently cooked"
  • Starch limited to "yams, sweet potatoes, squash, lentils, and other whole-foods sources rather than from grains"
  • If you tolerate dairy, try cultured forms like yogurt and kefir
  • Nutritious high-fat foods: nuts, avocado, bone marrow, organ meats, fish eggs, oily seafood like salmon, coconut, egg yolks, dairy from animals eating very good diets

And as for those who still blame fat for obesity, Denise disagrees.

"My view at this point is that fat is not inherently harmful or obesity-promoting. Many fatty foods are our best source of hard-to-get vitamins like K2. Quality and source matter profoundly, though. I recommend "whole" sources of fats to their isolated oils, and I believe the refined vegetable oils we see promoted for their low saturated fat content are legitimately harmful," she adds.

Bottom line: Eat a diet of unprocessed food, including fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and meat, eggs, healthy fats and other natural foods. Learn more about "Death by Food Pyramid: How Shoddy Science, Sketchy Politics and Shady Special Interests Have Ruined Our Health" by clicking here.

Worth noting: "Death by Food Pyramid" is published by Primal Nutrition, publisher of related books that explain how to use Paleo-style diets to boost your health and weight loss. Among the ones that we've reviewed and recommend:

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