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Research-Based Healthy Eating Plate Unveiled

Complex carbohydrates (Agricultural Research Service/USDA)

(Agricultural Research Service/USDA)

Nutritionists at Harvard University’s School of Public Health have released the Healthy Eating Plate, a visual guide for eating a healthy meal that the developers say is based only on the science and not the interests of growers or industry.

Eric Rimm, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the school says, “We want people to use this as a model for their own healthy plate or that of their children every time they sit down to a meal, either at home or at a restaurant.” The Healthy Eating Plate recommends:

– An abundant variety of vegetables, the more the better, but with a limited consumption of potatoes

– A variety of fruits every day

– Whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and brown rice, with limits on refined grains, such as white bread and white rice, act like sugar in the body

– Proteins, such as fish, poultry, beans, or nuts, which contain healthful nutrients, with limits on red meat and avoidance of processed meats

– Olive, canola, and other plant oils in cooking, on salads, and at the table that reduce harmful cholesterol, with limits on butter and avoidance of trans fats

– Water, tea, or coffee with little or no sugar, but limits on milk and dairy, juices, and avoidance of sugary drinks

Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate, say the researchers, is based on current 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. Two in three U.S. adults and one in three children are now overweight or obese.

Walter Willett, chair of the school’s Department of Nutrition says the Healthy Eating Plate is based solely on the research and not the economic needs of the food industry. “Like the earlier U.S. Department of Agriculture Pyramids, MyPlate mixes science with the influence of powerful agricultural interests,” says Willett, “which is not the recipe for healthy eating.”

The researchers say the USDA’S MyPlate guide does not tell consumers  about the greater benefits of whole grains, healthier proteins, beneficial oils and fats, and the need for limits on potatoes and dairy products.

Read more: Study: Local Food Can Improve Oregon’s Health, Create Jobs

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