Ask Doctor K: Healthy Eating Plate uses latest research
Anthony L. Komaroff Universal Uclick
March 19, 2015 – Updated: March 23, 8:10 p.m.
DEAR DOCTOR K: Is a healthy diet still based on the food guide pyramid?
DEAR READER: Twenty years ago, the USDA created its food guide pyramid. This symbol featured fats and oils at the tip and breads and grains at its base, with fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy in between. The pyramid was meant to convey, in a simple illustration, everything needed to build a healthful diet.
But the original pyramid, as well as the updated 2005 version, was easy to misinterpret. For example, some people thought the top foods were most important, rather than the other way around. The pyramids didn’t provide enough details about healthful food choices within each category. They made no distinction, for example, between fatty red meat and lean fish. What’s more, the pyramid proportions were not always based on the most recent scientific evidence.
As a result, in 2011 the USDA introduced a totally new icon called MyPlate. Experts from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Harvard Health Publications Division of Harvard Medical School then created an even better alternative. It is based on a wealth of nutrition research.
You can use the plate as a guide to distributing foods on your own plate. Of course, not every meal will look like the Healthy Eating Plate. But your meals over the course of the day can reflect these proportions. Here is what’s on the plate:
Fully half of the plate contains fruits and vegetables.
A quarter of the plate is whole grains (not just any grain, as in the USDA version).
The final quarter is healthful sources of protein like fish, beans, nuts, seeds, poultry and eggs.
A bottle on the left side is a reminder to use healthy oils, like olive and canola. Limit butter and avoid unhealthy trans fats.
A glass on the right side is a reminder to drink low- or no-calorie liquids, limit milk and juice, and avoid sugary drinks.
At the bottom is a reminder to stay active for health and to maintain a normal weight.
To send questions, go to AskDoctorK.com.