18 October 11 Do We Have a Contender? Harvard's Healthy Eating Plate Challenges USDA's MyPlate

In an interesting move, the Harvard School of Public Health announced last month that it has its own Healthy Eating Plate in direct response to the USDA's new and "too simple" MyPlate guidelines. Citing the USDA's overly-simplistic approach to healthy eating and the government's muddled messaging that aligns itself too closely to agricultural interests, not scientific evidence, for what to eat, Harvard's Healthy Eating Plate claims to fill in for MyPlate's shortcomings.

For instance, the Healthy Eating Plate specifies that eating whole grains is better than refined grains. And MyPlate neglects to distinguish between the varying healthfulness of proteins; whereas Harvard's Healthy Eating Plate says that fish, poultry, beans and nuts are better protein choices than red meats. And when it comes to dairy, the Healthy Eating Plate does not promote drinking milk at every meal as does the MyPlate plan (which also says nothing about sugary drinks).

Another sticking point for the Harvard team behind the new Healthy Eating Plate is that the MyPlate plan says nothing about the importance of exercise while eating healthfully.

Taken from Harvard's press release, the Healthy Eating Plate plan is summarized as follows:
  • 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, on salads, and at the table, since these 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.
So, Harvard wants us to eat more vegetables, less potatoes, choose a wider variety of fruits, pay attention to healthy fats, and drink more water. That doesn't sound too far from what MyNetDiary has been saying all along. Of course, they also want us to avoid bacon whenever possible, but we slightly disagree on that one.

This just goes to show that there is room for creativity on all our plates, and as long as we are making sensible choices for ourselves and our families. So we say, eat right for what's right for you, don't forget to exercise, and track calories Have questions or comments about this post? Please feel free to comment on MyNetDiary's Community Forum or Facebook page – We would love to hear from you. And consider visiting our new Pinterest page!

Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.


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