BOSTON -- A year ago this month, the USDA unveiled MyPyramid, its replacement for the outdated food pyramid.



But a review in the April issue of the Harvard Heart Letter comments that although USDA redecorated and renamed the old pyramid, the agency didn't carry out the necessary changes needed to offer clear information on strategies for healthful eating.



MyPyramid fails to convey key messages from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the document that the food pyramid is supposed to represent, and it makes some recommendations that aren't the best nutrition advice, says the Harvard Heart Letter. For example, the guidelines recommend cutting back on animal fats, avoiding harmful trans fats, and limiting intake of salt and added sugars. MyPyramid only urges you to "choose wisely" when it comes to fat and carbohydrates.



MyPyramid's advice on protein also poses problems, according to the Letter. Lumping together red meat, poultry, fish and beans as equally healthful protein sources sidesteps the evidence that eating less red meat and more of the other protein sources offers numerous health benefits, the publication says.

The good news? MyPyramid does stress physical activity. It also uses common measurements like cups and ounces. And it tries to get away from one-size-fits-all recommendations.



When all is said and done, MyPyramid is not an unbiased source of information, says the Harvard Heart Letter. It comes solely from the USDA, the government agency that promotes American agriculture.



The Harvard Heart Letter then recommends alternatives -- the Dietary Guidelines for Americans or the Healthy Eating Pyramid, created by Harvard's Dr. Walter Willett and described in his book, "Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy."



The Harvard Heart Letter is available from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School.



SOURCE: Harvard Health Publications via PR Newswire.