University of Michigan Food Pyramid vs USDA

Written by: Rebecca Baird, May 26, 2010

My initial response to comparing the University of Michigan to the USDA Food Pyramid, was “wow, UM’s food pyramid begins with water” what a concept! On the USDA Food Pyramid there is no mention of water. There is also a difference between how much water a woman needs (9 cups per day) and a man needs (12 cups per day). Then, I noticed, where it talks about exercise on the UM food pyramid and how much, and on the USDA food pyramid (FP) there is a section which speaks about exercise but no fluids are mentioned there. The UM also includes how much extra water would be needed in different climates, if someone has diarrhea, or a cold; this information is missing on the USDA FP. The UM FP also gives the signs of dehydration, how to know if you have consumed too much water, whether your water may be contaminated by chlorine, lead, or Bisphenol-A; this information is missing on the USDA FP.
The second level, and most important daily food need mentioned on the UM FP is Fruits and Vegetables. On the USDA FP the first item, is Grains. The UM FP also puts emphasis on what each colored vegetable or fruit contains for nutrients which is missing on the USDA FP.
Grains is the next level on the UM FP and goes into great detail about the difference between whole grains and processed grains which is not available on the USDA FP.
The next level up on the UM FP is legumes, which on the USDA FP is lumped in with the meat section. The UM FP gives detailed information about legumes and states that even though legumes provide some protein, they lack the amino acids to create a complete protein so they need to be pared with whole grains; this is not mentioned on the USDA FP.
Healthy fats are not on the USDA FP but are on the UM FP with examples of good fats and serving sizes.
Seasonings are also on the UM FP which are not on the USDA FP.
Eggs are not mentioned on the USDA as part of nutritional requirements but are mentioned and given a place of their own on UM’s daily nutritional requirements.
The dairy section of the UM FP mentions many benefits to consuming dairy products and which dairy products are the best; the USDA has no information except that people should get 3 cups of some kind of dairy per day.
Lean meats, fish and seafood are items which are consumed on a weekly basis and not a daily basis. Lean meats are recommended as 1-3 servings per week and seafood is recommended as 2-4 servings per week, this is different than the USDA which states that we should eat 5 1/2 ozs per day.
So there are clear differences in the food pyramids, but the University of Michigan Food Pyramid definitely gives more information and puts more importance on nutritional needs.
University of Michigan Food Pyramid Link: http://www.med.umich.edu/umim/food-pyramid/index.htm
USDA Food Pyramid Link: http://weight-loss-programs.us/food-pyramid.html 

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