Term Paper: Diet Analysis Since the Conception

Pages: 5 (1408 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Health - Nutrition  ·  Buy This Paper

Diet Analysis

Since the conception of the food pyramid by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) in the 1960s and its inception in 1992, "the familiar, black triangle, found on the majority of boxes of foods at the supermarket, has been an expected sight to our generation" (Greene). It is the icon of nutrition for an entire country, and children are indoctrinated as soon as their innocent minds happen through the door of their first public school. To complete its universality, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 (as revised in 1994) requires it to be placed on all packaging without special exception.

While there can be no denying that the food pyramid has done its share in advising the American public of certain basic ideas about nutrition, it has also done its share of harm. According Scientific American in an article titled, 'Rebuilding the Food Pyramid,' "since 1992 more and more research has shown that the USDA pyramid is grossly flawed" (Willett 23).

The disparity between the stream of correct information from various health and nutrition organizations (for instance, most Americans know that saturated fat is less healthy than fat in general) and the erroneous ubiquity of the food pyramid (few Americans understand the difference between monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fats) has led to the coexistence of two prevailing but contradicting nutritional ideologies. The first is that which is outlined in the food pyramid. The second is a haphazardly dashed-together motley collection of facts gleaned from the advertisement efforts of nutritional research organizations.

My one-day caloric total (for October 16th) was 1275 Calories. According to the often-toted two-thousand calorie diet, I fulfilled a mere 63.75% of my caloric duties; however, Scientific American points out that "the best way to avoid obesity is to limit your total calories, not just the fat calories" (Willett 26).

On the same day, I consumed fifty-six grams of fat (86.15% DV); eighteen grams of saturated fat (90% DV), eleven grams of polyunsaturated fat, and sixteen grams of monounsaturated fat. Fat, the convention harbinger of nutritional ruin, is comfortably below the allowed amount. Unfortunately, "nutritionists [have] long known that some types of fat are essential to health and can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease" (Willett 23), which means that in the name of dietary betterment it is possible that I have deprived myself of vital nutrients.

To take a brief venture from dietary analysis, it is worth mentioning that the fundamental adage of construction (whether biological, social, or nutritional) -- that is to say, that form follows function -- is mostly ignored when it comes to fat. Saturated fat is particularly unhealthy because the hydrogen bonds have all been filled with an atom of hydrogen, resulting in a stiff molecule that takes up more space laterally and is more likely to cause arterial blockage. This fact is reflected in the food pyramid by recommending a lower quantity per diem.

What it fails to address is that the more hydrogen bonds are incomplete in the fat molecule, the more flexible it becomes, and therefore the less harmful. Dividing the remained of fats into "monounsaturated" and "polyunsaturated" is more than misleading; it is downright irresponsible.

October 16th brought with it 159 grams of carbohydrates. This is pleasing to Scientific American, which not only made the aforementioned statement about the benefits of lowering overall caloric intake, but also states that "scientists [have] found little evidence that a high intake of carbohydrates is beneficial" (Willett 23). Of course, it is anything but pleasing to the food pyramid, which flatly recommends almost twice that amount per day.

Happily, the six grams of fiber in my diet pleased nobody. Dietary fiber intake is certainly an area for concern in my diet, and I am pleasantly surprised by the clarity of that fact. Perhaps bran muffins or kidney beans would be met with a warm welcome in my digestive system.

The forty grams of protein consumed were an area for concern. The food pyramid and daily values says very little about protein, and conventional wisdom has stayed relatively quiet as well. American Fitness writer Nancy Clerk advices between 1/2 of a gram and ae of a gram per pound of body weight for… [END OF PREVIEW]

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