The Department of Health keeps dietary recommendations under review as part of its role in promoting evidence based public health. As part of this review, the new Healthy Food for Life – the Healthy Eating Guidelines and Food Pyramid have been developed by the Department working in partnership with other experts in nutrition in Ireland.
Healthy Food for Life is a toolkit which includes a new Food Pyramid and guidance materials to help people makes choices to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. The resources reflect best national and international evidence and advice. The guidance applies for everyone from 5 years of age upwards.
The above text appears on the website http://www.healthyireland.ie/.
Some thoughts on these guidelines:
1. There are two problems with this pyramid: one around fats and oils and the other one on meat and fish.
2. Fats and oils : the cardioprotective properties of fats differ dramatically between processed fats (e.g. crisps) and natural fats (e.g. nuts, dried fruits, olive oil). The information that passes to the Public is that all fats are the same...but this is not the case! We should communicate to the Public that actually some fats have strong cardioprotective properties (i.e. all polar lipids in wine, fish, vegetable oils, olives etc)
3. Meat and fish: these two foods have distinctive nutritional values in terms of cardioprotection! It is. with regret, to say that it is a grave scientific mistake to group these foods (even more severe that then grouping of all fats). Fish (any fish!) has strong anti-inflammatory properties! (see chapters 4,5 and 8 on this book). Also, the nutritional values of red and white meat are different; this is also overlooked.
I am afraid that the information that is going to be disseminated will have a profound impact towards the wrong direction ...
I would suggest that some information on moderate wine consumption, the value of eating with others and the differences between fish and meat could be drawn from the Med Diet pyramid.
Ioannis Zabetakis (BSc, MEd, PhD)
University of Limerick,