Why The Food Pyramid Is Wrong, What You Can Do About It, and How To Get A Free Download of Ben Greenfield’s Superhuman Food Pyramid.

Superhuman_Food_Pyramid_by_Ben_Greenfield
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Since 1974, when the first food pyramid was appeared in Sweden, triangular or pyramid-shaped nutrition guides have been used by 25 other countries and organizations. I found a great graphic over at Huffington Post that depicts some of the more popular food pyramids from around the world, and although America now uses the MyPlate design many countries around the world still use a food pyramid to dole out nutrition advice.

In 2011, the USDA Food Pyramid (pictured) was with replaced with MyPlate, which is very similar in terms of nutrient percentages.

Interestingly, a consistent pattern in food pyramids around the globe, from China’s Food Pagoda to Greece’s Food Pyramid, is the appearance of cereals, grains, bread, pasta and other starchy carbohydrates as the base of the diet – and fats near the top of the pyramid, as a “use sparingly” category.

But this type of pyramid can lead to health problems. After all, dietary fat from healthy sources has been shown in studies to actually help to increase weight loss, reduce heart disease risk, lower blood sugars, lower cholesterols and maintain proper brain function (especially in kids).

And if you listened to my interview with Dr. William Davis, “The Shocking Truth About Wheat”, or my interview with Paul Jaminet about the Perfect Health Diet you learned that consumption of carbohydrates can cause serious issues with everything from weight gain to fuzzy thinking to heart disease.

But the issues don’t stop with the predominantly “high carb, low fat” recommendations of most food pyramids. Frequent consumption of featured and recommended foods such as commercialized modern whole milk and hamburger has been linked to heart disease…

…dairy is extremely overemphasized – although calcium is important, many vegetable and meat sources contain plenty of calcium with a lower number of calories….

…there is no differentiation between “good proteins” and “bad proteins”, “good carbs” and “bad carbs” or “good fats” and “bad fats”…

…and the minimum serving of fruits is 2-4, which is a great way to send your blood sugar levels on a roller coaster ride all day long if you’re not careful.

Furthermore, when it comes to the American food pyramid, we’ve barely scratched the surface of how food and agricultural institutions can exert lobbying and political power on the USDA to feature and prioritize subsidized industries such as dairy, corn and wheat as heavily featured or highlighted recommendations (a great book to read more about these shenanigans is “Food Politics“).

So what should a good food pyramid actually look like?

Although I have yet to be convinced that a food pyramid is the best, most functional way to dynamically depict dietary recommendations, I’ve decided to act on hundreds of requests from readers and listeners and create a “Ben Greenfield Endorsed” food pyramid.

I call my new design the “Superhuman Food Pyramid”, and this new food pyramid address all the issues above, ties in my personal nutritional philosophies that I’ve expressed many times in blog posts and podcasts, and also gives you a spectrum of choices from “Eat” to “Moderate” to “Avoid” for each food group, so that you don’t have to deal, for example, with “Fats” lumped into just one category, or “Proteins” just lumped into another category.

To make it easier to practically apply my Superhuman Food Pyramid to your diet, I’ve also included several pages listing each food category and the Eat, Moderate, and Avoid foods within that category, so you can simply print, grab and go to the grocery store or farmer’s market with your Superhuman Food list.

You instantly get my Superhuman Food Pyramid for free when you click the button below and share on Twitter or Facebook.

If you have questions, comments or feedback, just leave it below.

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130 thoughts on “Why The Food Pyramid Is Wrong, What You Can Do About It, and How To Get A Free Download of Ben Greenfield’s Superhuman Food Pyramid.

    1. What a joke BG. This will make a fun youtube video response.

      Ben Greenfield thinks cucumbers and lemons make you fat along with red leaf lettuce but fried beef tallow makes you lean and healthy? LMFAO!

      Are you serious bro or just taking the piss?

      1. Thats what I was thinking. I was getting some good information out of his material but than I looked at this and i was like whoa

  1. i love that this is soooo close to how we eat. a couple tweaks and we're already following the pyramid. THANKS Ben!! You rock!

  2. Hey Ben,
    The link doesn't seem to be working for FB. I have tried to post it but nothing happens. I then hit the download button and it tells me I have to post to FB first. So I hit the post to FB button again and nothing…. Any suggestions?

  3. Hey Ben! What do you consider a serving size for the different groups on your pyramid? Thanks for putting this together. It looks like a great resource.

  4. Hi Ben. Thanks for posting pyramid! Question: Why so down on roasted nuts? Does roasting nuts cause them to become higher in fat? I noticed you put raw nuts under 'moderate' and roasted nuts/seeds under 'avoid'. If I buy raw almonds and roast them myself, adding no new ingredient in the process, do they still move from 'moderate' to 'avoid'? OR, did you mean to not buy almonds, for example, that are pre-roasted and sold that way. (With a bunch of other seasonings added).

    Essentially, why have you placed the roasted version of raw nuts put under the 'avoid' category?

    Thanks, as always,
    Anita

    1. Anita, why on earth would I tell you not to eat roasted nuts because roasting causes them to become “higher in fat”? I just told you fats are good! I’m not trying to be harsh, I just really want to make sure you understand that it’s very rare that I recommend avoiding something because it’s “high in fat”.

      It’s because the roasting process increase free radical formation. Anytime you heat a seed or nut based oil, it increases in rancidity, whether you roast them yourself or someone else does. Low heat only for nuts (i.e. a dehydrator).

      1. Hey Ben, i did not mean to imply that YOU had indicated that roasting nuts causes them to "become higher in fat"… that was my taking a stab at a potential reasoning for roasted nuts being placed under 'avoid'. Evidently, i was wrong. No worries, got it now, roasting = increase in free radical formation… thanks.

    1. Same here…don't use FB or Twitter…won't use FB or Twitter. This is a well-used internet marketing and traffic generation method that Ben's used before. It does leave a segment (probably larger than realized) of us loyal followers out in the cold on things once in a while.

      Sharing? I tell everyone I know about Ben and the things I've learned from him. No gimmicks needed. Advertising doesn't get much better than true unsolicited word-of-mouth from people you actually know and trust.

      I don't mind missing out on things once in a while. Ben has given a lot…and in return I've purchased a lot from Ben, both out of respect for his contribution to my life as well as the fact that what he has is good stuff, from his digital products to his suppliments and hard goods.

      As long as I don't feel TOO left out, I'll stick with you, Ben!

      1. Very well stated! I too will not use FB or Twitter, so I guess we are left out occasionally … that said, I agree that Ben is still the best resource on the internet.

  5. Hey Ben, Thanks for the GREAT info. I retired from the California Air National Guard a little over a year ago. I gained 25 pounds of dead weight over the past year, but with good info like this, along with your podcasts and busting my butt I'll be back in shape in no time!
    Thank again Ben!!

  6. Superhuman…hmm but then where are the different types of Kryptonite? :P Just kidding, I’m sure it rocks, will download as soon as I get home:)

  7. Hey Ben, I’d love to view the pyramid but I only see an option for Twitter (which I do not use). I’d post to Facebook but do not see an option.
    Thanks,
    Dan L

      1. I now see the button to Post to FB, but when I do that, it worked once and nothing came up. I clicked on Download and it says you must post to FB first… Now when I click on Post to FB nothing happens. Hmm…

  8. Ok, if anyone is having issues still, copy this to your Facebook wall.. its basically doing it manually, you will then be able to click on the link on your wall and view the pyramid and share w/ others.
    http://goo.gl/UqgYo

    Ben, love the pyramid, thanks again for your efforts. I completely agree with what you have put together, I have been seeing a Nutritionist for 6 years now, he specializes in Metabolic Typing and Blood type diets, and his plan for me is VERY similar to what you have here.

    PS – Avocados is on there twice, once misspelled as "avocadod".

    Dan L.

  9. Hey Ben, You didn’t mention Spinach? I thought it would be ranked next to Kale or is it not consider a superhuman food. I like to use alot of spinach for salads. Keep up the good work man

  10. I am a bit puzzled by your recommendations for fat, especially items like ghee that are incredibly high in saturated fats. Olive oil makes a lot of sense as a clear alternative. Can you point me to some scientific studies on which your recommendations are based?

  11. What about fermented soy products? I’ve read they are the only OK soy food to regularly consume. Also, why no organic fat free/low fat yogurt? Thanks, Ben!

  12. Ben:
    Very thought provoking pyramind. In addition to questions about fat free (as opposed to fat containing) yogurt, and some of the other questions above, what about edamame? And where do the various milks (cow's, goat's, soy, coconut) fit in? Also wondering what roasting does to nuts to make them bad. I know a lot of these questions are dealt with elsewhere on your website and podcasts, but it would be helpful to have a synopsis of your thoughts on these questions, as well as a brief sentence or two explaining why each item in the pyramid is in the "eat," "moderation," or "avoid" categories. I'd certainly pay for a booklet with those details. Would be nice to have as a reference, for myself and when talking to others about nutritional issues. Thanks, and keep up the great work. Nice to see you trying to back up your selections with studies.

    1. Edemame is not fermented, so lots of phytic acids, which inhibit digestion. See "drinks" section of pyramid for milks, etc, and read comment earlier in this post about nuts and roasting vs. raw. I will eventually have a more comprehensive synopsis…

      1. Getting the hang of your website. Learning how to post and pay attention to your replies to other posts. Sorry for the redundancy. Thanks for the patience. Great info!

  13. I was very surprised to see Onions, Garlic, Peppers & Tomatoes on the "avoid" side! I currently eat loads of these :-(

    Should these be avoided even though I do not have an autoimmune disease and am not nightshade sensitive? If so, what is bad about these vegetables?

  14. Hey Ben,
    Very intriguing pyramid. I have a ton of questions…mostly about why certain foods are on the avoid list. Will you cover this in more detail in your podcast at some point or should I dump my questions here?

    1. Yes, or you could go listen to all the previous podcasts where I've talked about this before. ;) But in a nutshell, yes, I will be covering in much more detail eventually. For now, just do it!

  15. Ben,

    I don't recall hearing this from you, but I haven't completely listened to every podcast yet… Why is almond milk in the avoid? I know you probably mean the commercial variety here rather than the make it yourself, but is the commercial stuff really that bad? I drink it every day. I live in a state where they ban the sale of raw milk so I have no where to get it. I do buy coconut milk but don't like the taste of it so I only use it on occassion for smoothie or blend with protein/greens powders. Can't stand the unsweetened straight and won't buy the sweetened.

  16. Just a suggestion, next time you could place in a separate section the recommendations for those having allergy problems. You saw in fact many people asking "why this food in moderation" for foods that are excellent, nutritionally speaking. For instance you place strawberries in the moderate section but mango in the "eat" section. I suppose this is for the fact that strawberries are more likely to cause allergies, because otherwise it would not make sense, they are rich in a number of nutrients and far less sugary than mango.
    But really, people can be allergic to virtually everything. You cannot mix what is good nutritionally to what you should avoid only because some people have allergies to that. They are two completely separate chapters, and those with allergies usually consult a specialist for foods to avoid.

    1. Actually, strawberries are higher in pesticides and herbicides. They're one of the "dirty dozen". The difference in sugar between equal serving sizes of mango and strawberries is pretty minimal. It's tough to make a food pyramid that takes into account allergies, because they're so variant.

  17. I am having the same problem as people above: shared the link on Facebook, but have no idea how to get the larger version of the pyramid. I would really like to see it. Plus, I wish Ben had an email contact. oh well, looks like he is doing good work.

  18. If carbohydrates can cause serious issues with everything from weight gain to fuzzy thinking to heart disease, how come Dr.Doug Graham doesn't suffer from any of these and he's been on a high carb low fat diet for 30 years now? How many people do you actually know that are fat because they are eating too many potatoes?

    1. no. no, they are not. fruit is amazing for you. my vegan self who has spent years in a nutritional epidemiology lab and has a degree in vertebrate physiology begs to differ on anyone saying a bad thing about fruit.

      fruit is amazing for you.

  19. Thanks, Ben. I'm new to your site, and happy with everything I am seeing. I am an endurance triathlete, is the pyramid designed for endurance athletes, regular joes, or both?

  20. Dear Ben,
    We listen to and enjoy your podcast series. We particularly like the way that you are balanced and hear all points of view and let your audience make up their mind, to see what suits them individually.
    The last one struck a chord with me, as I have been successfully treating old injuries for 10 years now, by hand the old-fashioned way, because it works. Your fabulous triathlete describing how he has to live with his old wrist and Piriformis injuries surprised me a bit as I have heard that physical treatments are much more available in the US than they are in Europe. I would love to be part of your show and describe how people can get these things fixed. I realise that I am in Europe and your audience is mainly in the States, but I have been developing ways to teach people to treat themselves because I have the same problem, many of my followers are in America and this is why I have seen the necessity to try to serve those who cannot get to me. I hope to start a small revolution! It is possible to address many issues yourself. I have discovered this through failing to find anyone who works the way I do to treat me, so I have been working on methods to tackle issues myself.
    I have done this on the radio before!
    Please get in touch if this appeals to you.
    Best Wishes Catherine Holland.

  21. I don't have a twitter or facebook account and I don't want one. But I'd love to see and have a copy of your pyramid.
    I enjoy your podcasts – very informative!

  22. Hi Ben,

    First time commenting, just recently found your site (Awesome) and I like this pyramid but was wondering why you put regular beans and legumes under the AVOID category? Does this include cooking your own dried beans? I was hoping you could elaborate a bit or point me in the direction of some research.

    Thanks!

  23. Hi Ben, the food pyramid is great. I know its not an all inclusive list of items, but I noticed that grape seed oil is missing from the list. I use this quite a bit to supplement calories and fat when I need it and was wondering where this would fall on your list? I would expect that it would fall near olive oil, but I wanted your input.

    Thanks!

    1. In most cases, grapeseed oil should be used minimally, since it is a highly processed oil that ultimately does not hold many nutritional properties that an alternative oil such as olive oil, coconut oil or nut oils will have.

  24. I'm very openminded about this, but I just read The China Study, which draws some EXTREMELY convincing links between animal product consumption and heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Any thoughts? They push a 100% plant based diet.

    1. i've followed a strict plant-based diet for the past 11 years (and was a strict vegetarian for over ten years before that) and hope to go mainly raw in a few months. raw foods are amazing.

  25. I would love to look at your Super Human Food Pyramid, but I do not belong to Facebook or Twitter (nor do I want to).
    Is there any other way?

  26. Hey Ben, I shared this on FB and was surprised how many of my work mates started asking me about it. I've put them in the direction of your podcasts as I've told them they are loaded with information on nutritional for and training tips.

    I'm only question is how do I get to download a readable copy of the food pyramid?

    Thanks,
    Paul C

  27. This is the perfect webpage for anyone who really wants to understand this topic.
    You understand a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not that I
    really would want to…HaHa). You certainly put a new spin on a subject which has
    been discussed for decades. Great stuff, just excellent!

  28. You are so cool! I do not think I’ve truly read through something like this before. So good to discover somebody with a few original thoughts on this subject matter. Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up. This site is one thing that is required on the web, someone with a bit of originality!

  29. shared it, went through the PDF downloader thing even though my security suite kept telling me not to then… nothing. Does it really have to be this difficult?

  30. guy – this is crap..you post on facebook…it doesn't work…you try again and finally it does, and then your asked to download a bunch of BS software, toolbars, etc… much less of a fan after this… you need to figure out a better way…

  31. Hey this is kind of of off topic but I was wondering
    if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with
    HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding knowledge so I wanted to get guidance from someone with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  32. Interesting food pyramid from a health fanatic. Is the traditional pyramid actually encouraging poorer health?

  33. Is this offer still good? I just tweeted (twice) that I downloaded Ben's Superhuman Food Pyramid, but the message I'm gettting is that they haven't seen my tweet. Is there some other way to acquire this infographic? Thanks a bunch for all you do! (Twitter name is Meg Duncan Daniel.)

  34. Hi Ben! First of all, I love your tips, but I have a few questions:
    How come some foods appear as don't eat in one category and eat/moderate in another?
    I have an Ironman in 1,5 month, do you think I could make the switch now from medium fat/ medium carb diet to low carb/ high fat or wait until after the IM?
    Also, what's the problem with tomatoes??
    Thanks!

  35. Ben I posted the comment on Twitter and got the message back "didn't see your tweet, try again …" and then texted "FITNESS" to 411247 and got a welcome message .. but no pyramid .. need some help here pls. Thx

  36. Ben, I'm glad I came across your site and appreciate the information here. I especially found the protein supplement reviews helpful. I downloaded the updated food pyramid after sharing on Facebook. When you zoom in, the graphic gets larger but the print size of the text inside the pyramid did not seem to increase much. I had to zoom in very closely to see it, which makes it difficult to use. You might consider another format that makes it easier to print the document and actually see the text well, or just view it more easily within the PDF without zooming so much. Meant respectfully, and thanks again. Mike

  37. just readin this now, looking forward to seeing chart more detailed. i dont have twitter and dont see the link for facebook? happy to share. thanks!

  38. Hey Ben,

    You speak to me, but I do not have a twitter or facebook account. Call me caveman, how do I get a copy of your food pyramid, I have old fashion dollars. I am a personal trainer and enjoy the efforts of your work and research.

  39. Hire a new graphic designer or if you made this thing – hire a graphic designer! It is virtually impossible to read.

  40. Hi Ben, I would like to know your thoughts on edible fungi such as mushrooms as a food source in the pyramid?

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