The Healthy Eating Plate, created by nutrition experts at the Harvard School of Public Health and the editors at Harvard Health Publications, is a guide to creating healthy, balanced meals – whether served on a plate or packed to go for snack or lunch. Put a copy on your fridge so you can remind yourself to prepare healthy, balanced meals every day.
This visual plate-shaped diagram is intended to be a key tool in nutritional education, both for children and adults. It does not mean that we must necessarily distribute all our intakes like this, in the form of a plate. But it does serve as an approximation to find out the ideal distribution of the different groups of healthy foods in our diet. Fortunately, Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate leaves out some confusing elements that do have other expired and obsolete graphics incorporated, such as the famous nutritional pyramids.
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Make the majority of your meals vegetables and fruits – ½ your plate:
Try to incorporate color and variety, and remember that potatoes don’t count as a vegetable on The Healthy Eating Plate because of their negative effect on blood sugar.
Choose whole grains – ¼ of your plate:
Whole grains and intact grains – whole wheat, barley, wheat grains, quinoa, oatmeal, brown rice, and foods made with these ingredients such as whole wheat pasta – have a more moderate effect on blood sugar and insulin than whole grains. white bread, white rice, and other refined grains.
The value of protein – ¼ of your plate:
Fish, chicken, legumes (beans/legumes/beans), and nuts are healthy and versatile sources of protein – they can be mixed into salads, and pair well with vegetables in a dish. Limit red meat, and avoid processed meats like bacon and sausages.
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Healthy plant oils (in moderation)
Choose healthy vegetable oils like olive, canola, soybean, corn, sunflower, peanut, or others, and avoid partially hydrogenated oils, which contain unhealthy trans fats. Remember that “low-fat” does not mean “healthy.”
Drink water, coffee, or tea:
Skip sugary drinks, limit milk and milk products to one or two servings a day, and limit juice to one small glass a day.
The red figure running across the Healthy Eating Plate tablecloth is a reminder that staying active is also important for weight management.
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The main message of The Healthy Eating Plate is to focus on the quality of the diet. The type of carbohydrate in the diet is more important than the amount of carbohydrate in the diet, because some carbohydrate sources – such as vegetables (other than potatoes), fruits, whole grains, and legumes (beans/legumes/ beans) – are healthier than others.
The Healthy Eating Plate also advises avoiding sugary drinks, a major source of calories – usually with little nutritional value. It also encourages you to use healthy oils, and doesn’t set a maximum on the percentage of calories from healthy sources of fat that people should get each day.
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