Harvard School of Public Health recently launched their version, Healthy Eating Plate, to the MyPlate which replaced the USDA Food Pyramid a few months ago.
Walter Willett, Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition and chair of the Department of Nutrition at HSPH states, “Unfortunately, like the earlier U.S. Department of Agriculture Pyramids, MyPlate mixes science with the influence of powerful agricultural interests, which is not the recipe for healthy eating. The Healthy Eating Plate is based on the best available scientific evidence and provides consumers with the information they need to make choices that can profoundly affect our health and well being.”
When the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate is compared to the USDA’s MyPlate, it shows the shortcomings in the USDA’s MyPlate. The MyPlate does not consider these factors:
- Whole grains are better for health than refined grains.
- The protein section does not indicate that some high-protein foods such as fish, poultry, beans, nuts are healthier than red meats and processed meats.
- It does not indicate beneficial fats such as olive, canola, or plant oil.
- It does not distinguish between potatoes and other vegetables.
- It recommends dairy at every meal. There is little evidence that high dairy intake protects against osteoporosis but substantial evidence that high intake can be harmful. It does not consider that a person may be allergic to dairy products.
- It does not mention anything about sugary drinks.
- It does not mention the importance of physical activity whereas the Healthy Eating Plate reminds people to stay active, which is an important factor in weight control.
The Healthy Eating Plate is based on the latest and best scientific evidence which shows that a plant-based diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and healthy proteins lowers the risk of weight gain and chronic disease. Helping Americans get the best possible nutrition advice is of critical importance as the U.S. and the world faces an increasing obesity epidemic. Currently, two in three adults and one in three children are overweight or obese in the U.S.
The sections of the Healthy Eating Plate include:
- Vegetables: Eat an abundant variety, the more the better. Limited consumption of potatoes is recommended, however, as they are full of rapidly digested starch, which has the same roller-coaster effect on blood sugar as refined grains and sweets. In the short-term, these surges in blood sugar and insulin lead to hunger and overeating, and in the long term, to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic disorders.
- Fruits: Choose a rainbow of fruits every day.
- Whole Grains: Choose whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and brown rice. Refined grains, such as white bread and white rice, act like sugar in the body. Eating too many refined grains can raise the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
- Healthy Proteins: Choose fish, poultry, beans, or nuts, which contain healthful nutrients. Limit red meat and avoid processed meats, since eating even small quantities of these on a regular basis raises the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, and weight gain.
- Healthy Oils: Use olive, canola, and other plant oils in cooking and on salads. Healthy oils or healthy fats reduce harmful cholesterol and are good for the heart. Limit butter and avoid trans fat.
- Water: Drink water, tea, or coffee with little or no sugar. Limit milk and dairy (1-2 servings per day) and juice (1 small glass a day) and avoid sugary drinks.
Join the conversation: What is your opinion of the Healthy Eating Plate vs. MyPlate?
Dr. Marion Nestle weights in on her opinion of the Healthy Eating Plate vs MyPlate.
She believes that the Healthy Eating Plate is better in some ways, “healthy” but still includes the nutritionally incorrect “protein” category (all unprocessed foods contain some protein and dairy and grains contain a lot.) She doesn’t think it’s helpful to exclude whole categories of foods such as dairy and she feels the emphasis given to oils is confusing.
Eating Healthy in Orange County
Visit your Whole Foods Markets (located in Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Tustin, and one to open soon in Laguna Niguel), Sprouts (located throughout Orange County), or your local Farmer’s Market.
Shaline Miller is a Holistic Nutrition Consultant and Health Coach with Harmonious Living Health Coach. Visit her website at www.shalinemiller.com. Follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/creathealthieru and on Facebook at: Harmonious Living Health Coach.