June 5, 2000
WASHINGTON--It's official--soy has found a home on the food pyramid. This new development comes after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the 5th edition of Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for Americans on May 30 at the National Nutrition Summit, the first conference of this type since 1969.
"It's good to see [the government] recognize soy as an alternative to animal protein," said Phil Harvey, director of scientific affairs for the National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA). "People should experiment with it if they haven't tried it." The 2000 Guidelines recognize that calcium-rich soy drinks are a good alternative to dairy beverages and that a half-cup of tofu or a soy burger are good meat substitutes. Tofu is also listed as a good source of calcium if combined with calcium sulfate. "Soy has unique benefits as a heart-healthy alternative," said John Cardellina, vice president of botanical sciences at the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN). "That isn't something you see as a benefit of meat." The guidelines also recommend dietary intakes of avocados and frozen vegetables and recommend moderate intakes of alcohol and sugar.
At the Summit, USDA announced it will begin testing high-protein and high-carbohydrate diets--Americans' answers to quick weight loss. USDA researchers plan to put two groups of people on prototype diets based on Dr. Robert Atkins' high-protein/low-carb and Dr. Dean Ornish's high-carbohydrate/low-fat diets. The goal is to measure how much weight is lost and how health is affected. Later this year, a panel of scientists will develop protocol for the studies, which will be conducted directed at USDA's nutrition research center at the University of California-Davis. "If obesity is the number one [health] issue, then we need to put our money there and figure out what works," said Cyndi Thompson, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association and a nutrition expert at the University of Arizona. According to the latest dietary guidelines, the best weight control is by exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet of grains, fruits and vegetables.
As an aside, Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman was accosted with a tofu pie while presenting at the Summit. The pie, tossed by an activist from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), narrowly missed his face; the activist was angered that the dietary guidelines promoted meat as a dietary staple.
For further information about issues presented at the Summit, visit www.usda.gov.
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