REDUCING CANCER RISK AND OPTIMIZING BODY WEIGHT WITH DIETARY CHANGES USING THE USDA FOOD PYRAMID IN DEPTH
A Nutrition and Food discussion for Teachers, Food Service Personnel, and
by Registered Dietitian George Eisman of the Coalition for Cancer Prevention
The USDA Food Pyramid provides a tool for encouraging healthy eating, but age-appropriate insights by a Cancer-prevention Specialist Dietitian can help educators and caretakers fully understand its practical applications for long-range disease risk reduction.
Sample Content of Presentation
The Grain Group
The USDA recommendation to “make half your grains whole” is discussed. For instance, a serving of whole grains each day reduces heart attack risk by 1/3 in adults, yet most people are not familiar with the full range of whole grains available. Grains like barley, amaranth, rye, spelt, quinoa, and kamut can add interest and variety toward this end. Using just whole-wheat flour products like bread and pasta do not provide the same benefits as do intact whole grain products.
The Vegetable Group
Appreciating the colors of various common vegetables, and health benefits attributed to those pigments is presented with explanations and samples. Discussion of oxalic acid (mineral binder) content of certain greens (spinach, chard, beet greens) is included.
The Fruit Group
Discussion of importance of color variety reinforces that presented with vegetables. Importance of daily fiber intake leads into explanation of USDA recommendation to “go easy on the fruit juice”.
The Milk Group
Explanation of why calcium is needed in the diet and why milks are one of several rich sources. Discussion of the different types of milk products and milks, such as yogurt and full-fat, skim, soy, and rice milks and the health implications of each at different stages of growth, including increased hormone-related cancer (breast, prostate, ovarian) risks.
The Meat and Beans Group
Discussion of why these two very different kinds of food are included in the same group through explanation of what protein is and what it does in the body. The USDA recommendation to consume “more dry beans and peas” is based on health data showing much lower cancer rates in counrties that consume more of their protein from these sources compared to animal-derived sources.
The Oil Group
The USDA statement “you need some for good health” is open to wide interpretation, as it has different meanings depending on age and state of health.