Friday, February 10, 2012

The Best Dietary Guidelines: Healthy Eating Plate and Pyramid

The latest and healthiest dietary guideline, Harvard's Healthy Eating Plate.

There is a decent amount of criticism of the old USDA food pyramids and the latest Choose My Plate dietary guidelines.  Though I still think the latest Choose My Plate is pretty good there is clearly some influence by lobbyists and the industry evident in it.  The most obvious would be the presence of the dairy food group.  The latest research shows dairy is not necessary for obtaining calcium, being the calcium present in dairy is not easily absorbed and calcium in vegetable products is very easy to absorb.  As sort of a response to the USDA’s food pyramids and plates, Harvard has produced the Healthy Eating Pyramid and Plate.  One of the advantages of Harvard’s pyramid and plate it what the old food pyramids did, they show you what and how much to eat in a single picture.  When it comes to diet, a picture really is worth a thousand words.  Unfortunately, the new USDA Choose My Plate moves away from this user friendly picture.  Fortunately, the Healthy Eating Food Pyramid and Plate are extremely user friendly.

Harvard’s Healthy Eating Food Pyramid and Plate: 

The best food pyramid out there.  Sorry the image quality doesn't copy so nice from the Harvard School of Health website.
A part from dairy, the Harvard food pyramid also differs in the amount of fruits and veggies it suggests.  When I examined the USDA plate I found out it had limits on fruit and veggie intake.  Harvard’s food pyramid however suggests more is better, which is strongly scientifically based.  Harvard’s also reduces the amount of carbohydrates and increases the amount of unsaturated fats, or oils.  This is a huge improvement being over consumption of carbohydrates and under consumption of unsaturated fats (oils) is the major cause of high cholesterol and heart disease.  Last major difference I noticed was that protein intake is higher in Harvard’s pyramid.  Protein is suggested to be from white meats, veggies, and to avoid red and processed meats. 


USDA's latest dietary guide line, Choose My Plate.  Harder to use than pyramids being you can't actually tell how much of what you are supposed to eat just by looking at it.  This plate is also unfortunately influenced by industrial rather than health interests.

The old USDA food pyramid that now has been replaced by Choose My Plate.  Pretty good but not as good as the Healthy Eating Pyramid.
The website for the Healthy Eating Food Pyramid and Plate isn’t quite as nice as the USDA’s.  However, the information on the Healthy Eating Pyramid and Plate website is far superior, with lots of clear scientifically based information to back it up.  From my perspective the Healthy Eating Pyramid and Plate is far superior to anything that has proceeded it, is easy to understand, and easy to follow.  I love the fact that it uses great scientific information to backup and explain it. 

                http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/2011-releases/healthy-eating-plate.html

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