The Harvard School of Public Health has offered their version of a food guide, the Healthy Eating Plate. It’s similar to the USDA’s MyPlate, but not exactly like it. The difference, Harvard says, is their food guide is not funded by the food industry.
“…MyPlate mixes science with the influence of powerful agricultural interests, which is not the recipe for healthy eating,” said Walter Willett, Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition and chair of the Department of Nutrition at HSPH. “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.”
At first glance, the Healthy Eating Plate looks similar to MyPlate, but it differs from MyPlate in significant ways. The proportion of fruits to vegetables is roughly the same and takes up half the plate. The proteins and grains sections also take up half the plate.
And there’s where the differences begin. Grains on the Healthy Eating Plate aren’t just grains, they’re whole grains and we’re specifically told to limit refined grains. In the protein section, there’s an admonishment to avoid processed meats.
Note the beverage included with the meal. On MyPlate, it’s dairy. The Healthy Eating Plate suggests water, tea, or coffee. A cup of plain tea or coffee contains about two calories. Water, of course, has zero calories.
Milk has 80-150 calories, depending on the fat content. The main nutrients in milk – calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D – are easily gotten through fruits, vegetables, and a small amount of sunshine. What you’re left with in milk is the calories and for a nation struggling with obesity, it seems odd that MyPlate recommends the higher calorie beverage.
Finally, the Healthy Eating Plate recommends healthy oils for cooking, in dressings, and at the table, and to stay active, both of which MyPlate ignores completely.
What do you think of Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate? Better than MyPlate? Or just another food guide among many?