Categories: Announcements, Comments, and Science.

The NZ Heart Foundation’s new revised healthy food choice advice has been released and published in the 7th November edition of the The Dominion Post. They have distanced themselves from their old failed model by scrapping the well known Pyramid completely and have replaced it with a stylized heart. The new advice recommends consuming food groups in what appears to be approximately the following proportions:

40% vegetables and fruit – eat most
25% breads, cereals, grains, starchy vegetables – eat some
15% fish, meat, chicken, legumes, eggs
12% milk, yoghurt, cheese
5% oils, nuts – use some
3% cut back on foods – junk food, takeaways & foods high in sugar, salt or saturated & trans fats.

The new presentation is trendy and very simple but is it too little too late? Well to answer the latter question – Professor Walter Willett of Harvard University published his scientific study of the Pyramid in 2002 and the evidence against dense refined carbohydrates that were in the “eat most” section was so overwhelming that Willett commented to the effect that the Pyramid should be turned upside down shifting the dense refined carbohydrates from “eat most” to “eat least”. This revelation caused a stir in the media and in March 2003 the then medical director of The NZ Heart Foundation, Diana North, was interviewed on the Paul Holmes Show on TV. In the interview Dr North said “we realise that we have to make changes” (to the Pyramid). Since then and until now they have continued to promote the proven bad advice so I guess 10 years could be seen as being a bit late to make changes to recommendations that are downright harmful to 75% of the population.

Are the changes too little? It is interesting that The Heart Foundation is still heavily promoting dense refined starches which come heavily in second place after fruit and vegetables. The more they change, the more they stay the same. If I was cynical I would wonder if the remaining prominence of dense refined carbohydrates is a sop to the manufacturers who sponsor the Heart Foundation. However I guess they have in a sense turned it upside down in that what they now recommend that we eat most is at the top and eat least of is at the bottom.

I wonder if people who are attempting to control their weight could be misled into consuming too much sugar from the fruit that is recommended along with vegetables to make up 40% of their shopping trolley.

Note that Willett came up with his own Pyramid that did recommend eating whole grains at most meals but it had white bread, white rice, potatoes, pasta and sweets all classified together at the top as to eat sparingly. The new Heart Foundation heart does not distinguish between whole grain bread and cereals and persists in recommending starchy vegetables e.g. potatoes. It is interesting that it no longer even mentions rice and pasta.

Since Willett’s work the evidence against even whole grain products has become more convincing as has increasing more healthy fat in the diet.

Most advice on nutrition is confusing and contradictory. This is why ProZone has always recommended taking note of how food affects you. The vast majority of people will notice dramatic improvements to their health, weight and wellbeing from drastically reducing or avoiding all dense refined carbohydrates including whole grains.

Contributed by Kevin Bateman