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Showing 1-10 of 13 reviews(3 star). Show all reviews
on September 14, 2001
This Harvard / Willett book redresses some of the major errors in the USDA food pyramid which failed to actually promote people's health.
STEP 1 FORWARD: This book steers you away from the high "glycemic index" sugar and starch foundation of the old pyramid which helped promote adult diabetes, blood circulation problems and heart disease. Instead, vegetables, fruits, whole grain foods and some oils become part of the new foundations of the proposed food pyramid.
STEP 2 FORWARD: The new pyramid includes "Multiple Vitamins for Most" and Alcohol in Moderation (unless contraindicated).
STEP 3 FORWARD: Harvard's new pyramid rehabilitates an oil based diet by making mono-unsaturates (olive and canola) and OMEGA-3 poly-unsaturates keys to good heath. ALL scientists having studied OMEGA-3 oils (of which fish, canola, flax and unhydrogenated soybean are main sources) DO AGREE with the need to increase this healthy oil which appears, at the very least, to lower sudden heart deaths and that may well reduce inflammation (arthritis, etc.) and possibly cancers.
BACKWARD 1 STEP, and this is extremely unfortunate since most fat-scientists also agree about this point: an excessive intake of the other poly-unsaturate, OMEGA-6 linoleic (found in corn, cottonseed, sunflower, safflower and again in soy) may well promote inflammatory (arthritis, heart) diseases, and cancer. I'd refer the reader to the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids, ISSFAL ( [...]) recommending a maximum intake of omega-6 linoleic of only 6.7 grams �as the average American and most Europeans already get twice that much.
While Willett ([...]) report on this potential danger of omega-6 (page 77), they nevertheless include corn and sunflower, some main offenders, in the very base of their new pyramid. Not only that, they propose that reducing omega-6 oils from current amounts "is likely to wipe out many of the gains" in preventing heart disease... This omega-6 position has Harvard relatively isolated since it is without the support of clinical trials. The blanket recommendation of all polyunsaturated oils, if ISSFAL is correct, may well violate the medical principle of "first not to do harm". This, and the continued blaming of saturated fat and cholesterol [also without clinical evidence in support] is truly a superb opportunity missed to incorporate the important last decade of research about fats.
This is one problem with statistics and not biology based nutritional advice. With those comments in mind and considering that a high intake of omega-6 poly-unsaturates like corn and sunflower oils may be dangerous [and don't raise good cholesterol; HDL, page 61], this book is a worthwhile read that makes an important contribution to healthy eating and to the battle against diabetes and industrial hydrogenation [trans fats]. ([...] )
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on September 14, 2001
This Harvard / Willett book redresses some of the major errors in the USDA food pyramid which failed to actually promote people's health.
STEP 1 FORWARD: This book steers you away from the high "glycemic index" sugar and starch foundation of the old pyramid which helped promote adult diabetes, blood circulation problems and heart disease. Instead, vegetables, fruits, whole grain foods and some oils become part of the new foundations of the proposed food pyramid.
STEP 2 FORWARD: The new pyramid includes "Multiple Vitamins for Most" and Alcohol in Moderation (unless contraindicated).
STEP 3 FORWARD: Harvard's new pyramid rehabilitates an oil based diet by making mono-unsaturates (olive and canola) and OMEGA-3 poly-unsaturates keys to good heath. ALL scientists having studied OMEGA-3 oils (of which fish, canola, flax and unhydrogenated soybean are main sources) DO AGREE with the need to increase this healthy oil which appears, at the very least, to lower sudden heart deaths and that may well reduce inflammation (arthritis, etc.) and possibly cancers.
BACKWARD 1 STEP, and this is extremely unfortunate since most fat-scientists also agree about this point: an excessive intake of the other poly-unsaturate, OMEGA-6 linoleic (found in corn, cottonseed, sunflower, safflower and again in soy) may well promote inflammatory (arthritis, heart) diseases, and cancer. I'd refer the reader to the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids, ISSFAL ... recommending a maximum intake of omega-6 linoleic of only 6.7 grams -as the average American and most Europeans already get twice that much.
While Willett (and the President and Fellows of Harvard College, to whom copyright) report on this potential danger of omega-6 (page 77), they nevertheless include corn and sunflower, some main offenders, in the very base of their new pyramid. Not only that, they propose that reducing omega-6 oils from current amounts "is likely to wipe out many of the gains" in preventing heart disease... This omega-6 position has Harvard relatively isolated since it is without the support of clinical trials. The blanket recommendation of all polyunsaturated oils, if ISSFAL is correct, may well violate the medical principle of "first not to do harm". This, and the continued blaming of saturated fat and cholesterol [also without clinical evidence in support] is truly a superb opportunity missed to incorporate the important last decade of research about fats.
This is one problem with statistics and not biology based nutritional advice. With those comments in mind and considering that a high intake of omega-6 poly-unsaturates like corn and sunflower oils may be dangerous [and don't raise good cholesterol; HDL, page 61], this book is a worthwhile read that makes an important contribution to healthy eating and to the battle against diabetes and industrial hydrogenation [trans fats]. ...
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on September 5, 2014
Using single facts about people's eating habits without correlation to how they ate before the study or the myriad details of what else they eat that could contribute to better or worse statistics, this book bends the numbers where the author desires. Discussions of study data do not take into account general good and bad eating habits along with a specific fact the author wishes to prove.

While the author openly disclaims that the result of any good study is more studies focused on the points not yet proven, unfortunately, some half-baked conclusions are made with the suggestion that more study is needed to prove that point. So as you read this, you have to sort out what actually happened from what might happen in a hypothetical future study.

In at least three quarters of the guidance in the book, it appropriately couches the statements with may, might, could, and probably. But then the issue is that it further discusses those probable points as fact. Even the Whole Grain Council will put a hard number like 7% on population with gluten sensitivity, regardless of how absurd that is.

The book is out of date. It talks about the trans fat crisis as a current event. If you read this without first reading more modern nutritional advice, you'll find good advice for its day less the advances made in nearly a decade. For example, while the book goes on at length about the differences between refined and whole grain, and it segments the three well-known fats, it doesn't parse saturated fat into what we know today about MCT and palmitic versus oleic acid.

However, the basis of the book is some of the largest and longest studies ever done and they do contribute some general guidance, dispute long held beliefs, and clearly tear apart RDA and the old pyramid. On the Cordain to Campbell scale, this book leans slightly away from grain at times but it offsets that with a categorical fear of saturated fat driven by three letter acronym associations influenced by agribusiness.

As one of many I've read recently, I got the least information from this book. Nutritional science is moving too fast for a 2005 edition.
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on October 18, 2009
Absolutely the best nutrition guide I have found outside the classroom (even a great supplement inside the classroom). Has current data unlike some that are out-dated, talks about the results and doesn't just list them, and is really in-depth and thorough. Also has some really amazing recipes in the back that I use all the time now. I think that just by looking at this book on amazon you are interested in learning more and in that case this book is for YOU! I wish everyone would read this that way all the nutritional myths major marketing companies spend millions on can be debunked. I recommend it.

Update 07/2013:

I will say, my knowledge of nutrition has increased a great deal since I read this book. Although there is still some good information in there, it needs to be taken in context. There seems to still be a certain traditional approach emphasized with this book that prevents change and progress from being properly utilized. If you are unhealthy and are looking for a good starting point, then this book may do. It won't push you too far outside your comfort zone. However, if you are truly interested in changing your life and living as healthy of a life as you can, then skip on this one and chose "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease," by Dr. Caldwell B Esselstyn - a true eye-opener.
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on January 6, 2015
The info in this book seems to be sound, although--as other reviewers have noted--the author does do a lot of waffling. (I had to read the section on multivitamins several times to see if he was actually recommending them.) My main problem with the book is the typeface size. The print is so small that the book is almost useless. This is a real problem for recipes. Also, many of the graphics are blurry and impossible to read. This would be a useful reference book if the print quality was better.
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on February 1, 2013
There's useful information in this book and some good recipes. I was disappointed, however, and have to take it's recommendations with a grain of salt (!) because it was published in 2001 as strong support for the pyramid new at that time. There's been lots of critical research and new finings since then.
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on August 12, 2010
This book does a good job of delineating the factors in planning and practicing the consuming of a healthy diet and nutritional principles. It most definitely have an academic flavor, and is the type of book that you would want to pick up to do research on the subject of health and nutrition.

Overall, I found the book informative interesting but not necessarily riveting in the detailed explanation of dietary factors from one chapter to the next.
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on August 29, 2013
A great deal of repetition. Another book with a lot of boring filler. Save your money and read the review in the Boston Globe Sunday magazine. It says it all.
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on April 15, 2013
My doctor recommended this book for me. I am over-weight and wanted to eat more healthy foods. There is a lot of detail in this book, a lot to absorb. I would have left about half of the content out. But if you are a detail person, you will love it.
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on October 27, 2011
Wow, what a disappointment!

There are a thousand healthy-eating books, with a thousand contradicting opinions. What to do? I was looking for the best CURRENT SCIENCE on how to eat healthy. This book sounded like the ticket - written by a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health. PLUS great reviews.

When I got the book, I immediately discovered that it was copyright 2001, written TEN years ago. In a fifteen minute skim, I discovered that the book is against saturated fats (current science says they're beneficial) and recommends vegetable oils (science has shown that they're harmful). Plus tons of other misinformed and disproven opinions and recommendations (like cholesterol causes heart disease).

This book may have been smart 10 years ago, but there's been a lot of science since then. This book is NOT current science. And I'm once again without a trustworthy eating plan. Good God, this is America. Why hasn't some respected and unbiased group of scientists summarized the current knowledge for us on what's best to eat?
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