Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate

Do you feel bom­bard­ed with nutri­tion infor­ma­tion and con­fused on what to eat?  You’re not alone. The USDA con­duct­ed some con­sumer research and dis­cov­ered that peo­ple want a more sim­pli­fied mes­sage but more infor­ma­tion.

Although the USDA came up with MyPlate ear­li­er this year,  nutri­tion experts at Har­vard devel­oped their own Healthy Eat­ing Plate, to help guide you on what to eat.  Although their tool builds upon USDA’s MyPlate strat­e­gy, Harvard’s experts argue that the USDA’s food guide­lines are more influ­enced by the food indus­try than sci­ence.  To rem­e­dy this short­com­ing, Harvard’s nutri­tion expert cre­at­ed their own plate which is more spe­cif­ic and sci­ence-based.

Image of the Healthy Eating Plate

And this is what they say:

1. Half your plate should be veg­eta­bles and fruits. Fruits and veg­eta­bles help low­er blood pres­sure, reduce your risk of heart dis­ease, stroke, some can­cers, they help you feel full and pre­vent con­sti­pa­tion. Choose a vari­ety of veg­gies and fruits with dif­fer­ent col­ors. Dif­fer­ent veg­eta­bles pro­vide dif­fer­ent vit­a­mins and min­er­als. Instead of pota­toes choose sweet pota­toes.

2. A quar­ter of your plate should be whole grains. Whole grains help low­er cho­les­terol and insulin lev­els, decrease your risk of dia­betes and pre­vent con­sti­pa­tion. Whole grains include brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole wheat and corn tor­tillas and oats.

3. A quar­ter of your plate should be a healthy lean pro­tein, less red meat. Choose beans, tofu, nuts, fish and skin­less poul­try. Red and processed meats have been found to increase your risk of dia­betes, heart dis­ease and colon can­cer.

4. The “Healthy Eat­ing Plate” also rec­om­mends you use healthy oils such as olive, canola, sun­flower or flaxseed oil and avoid but­ter and trans fats.

5. Drink most­ly water and non-sug­ary bev­er­ages such as cof­fee and tea with lit­tle or no sug­ar. Lim­it 100% juice to one six ounce glass a day, whole fresh fruit is a bet­ter choice since it also adds fiber and phy­to­chem­i­cals (plant nutri­ents). It also rec­om­mends a  lim­it of milk/dairy to 1–2 serv­ings a day since some stud­ies have shown no ben­e­fit to get­ting an excess amount of cal­ci­um.

6. Stay active. Exer­cise is just as impor­tant as a healthy diet for weight con­trol and bet­ter health. Try to get at least the min­i­mum rec­om­men­da­tions of 30 min­utes a day for five days a week, mod­er­ate inten­si­ty aer­o­bic activ­i­ty. And two or more days of strength train­ing activ­i­ty using all major mus­cle groups.


Har­vard Health Pub­li­ca­tions. Har­vard Med­ical School. Healthy Eat­ing Plate. http://www.health.harvard.edu/plate/healthy-eating-plate. Accessed on Sep­tem­ber 29, 2011.

1 Comment

  1. AmyAthletica

    Peo­ple keep post­ing or search­ing at forums or blogspots for right healthy eat­ing. This one is very good info and help for eat­ing the right bal­ance of nutri­tion we need­ed

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