Harvard’s New Guide to Healthy Eating – Healthy Eating Plate

Posted by on January 18, 2012 in Blog, featured | Comments

Start here to learn more about the new Healthy Eating Plate, created by nutrition experts at Harvard School of Public Health, in conjunction with Harvard Health Publications. The Healthy Eating Plate can be your blueprint for planning a healthy balanced meal, and it fixes key flaws in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate.

How can you follow the Healthy Eating Plate? Here’s a rundown, section by section:

  • Fill half of your plate with vegetables and fruits.  The more color, and the more variety on this part of the plate, the better. Potatoes and French fries don’t count as vegetables on the Healthy Eating Plate, because they are high in fast-digested starch (carbohydrate), which has the same roller-coaster effect on blood sugar and insulin as white bread and sweets. These surges, in the short term, can lead to hunger and overeating, and in the long term, can lead to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and other health problems.

Commonly eaten fruits

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Bananas
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Mangoes
  • Nectarines
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Plums
  • Prunes
  • Raisins
  • Tangerines


  • strawberries
  • blueberries
  • raspberries
  • cherries


  • cantaloupe
  • honeydew
  • watermelon

Mixed fruits

  • fruit cocktail

100% Fruit juice

  • orange
  • apple
  • grape
  • grapefruit

Commonly eaten vegetables in each subgroup

Dark Green Vegetables

      • bok choy
      • broccoli
      • collard greens
      • dark green leafy lettuce
      • kale
      • mesclun
      • mustard greens
      • romaine lettuce
      • spinach
      • turnip greens
      • watercress
    • Starchy vegetables

      • cassava
      • corn
      • fresh cowpeas, field peas, or black-eyed peas (not dry)
      • green bananas
      • green peas
      • green lima beans
      • plantains
      • potatoes
      • taro
      • water chestnuts
    • Red & orange vegetables

      • acorn squash
      • butternut squash
      • carrots
      • hubbard squash
      • pumpkin
      • red peppers
      • sweet potatoes
      • tomatoes
      • tomato juice
    • Beans and peas

      • black beans
      • black-eyed peas (mature, dry)
      • garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
      • kidney beans
      • lentils
      • navy beans
      • pinto beans
      • soy beans
      • split peas
      • white beans
    • Other vegetables

      • artichokes
      • asparagus
      • avocado
      • bean sprouts
      • beets
      • Brussels sprouts
      • cabbage
      • cauliflower
      • celery
      • cucumbers
      • eggplant
      • green beans
      • green peppers
      • iceberg (head) lettuce
      • mushrooms
      • okra
      • onions
      • parsnips
      • turnips
      • wax beans
      • zucchini
  • Save a quarter of your plate for whole grains—not just any grains: Whole grains—whole wheat, brown rice, and foods made with them, such as whole wheat pasta—have a gentler effect on blood sugar and insulin than white bread, white rice, and other so-called “refined grains.” That’s why the Healthy Eating Plate says to choose whole grains—the less processed, the better—and limit refined grains.

Commonly eaten grain products

Whole Grains

  • amaranth
  • brown rice
  • buckwheat
  • bulgur (cracked wheat)
  • millet
  • oatmeal
  • popcorn
  • rolled oats
  • quinoa
  • sorghum
  • triticale
  • whole grain barley
  • whole grain cornmeal
  • whole rye
  • whole wheat bread
  • whole wheat crackers
  • whole wheat pasta
  • whole wheat sandwich buns and rolls
  • whole wheat tortillas
  • wild rice
  • Put a healthy source of protein on one quarter of your plate:  Chose fish, chicken, beans or nuts, since these contain beneficial nutrients, such as the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids in fish, and the fiber in beans. An egg a day is okay for most people, too (people with diabetes should limit their egg intake to three yolks a week, but egg whites are fine). Limit red meat—beef, pork, and lamb—and avoid processed meats—bacon, cold cuts, hot dogs, and the like—since over time, regularly eating even small amounts of these foods raises the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and colon cancer.

Commonly eaten protein foods

  • Meats

    Lean cuts of:

    • beef
    • ham
    • lamb
    • pork
    • veal

    Game Meats

    • bison
    • rabbit
    • venison

    Lean Ground Meats

    • beef
    • pork
    • lamb

    Organ Meats

    • liver
    • giblets


    • chicken
    • duck
    • goose
    • turkey
    • ground chicken and turkey


    • chicken eggs
    • duck eggs

    Beans and Peas

    • bean burgers
    • black beans
    • black-eyed peas
    • chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
    • falafel
    • kidney beans
    • lentils
    • lima beans (mature)
    • navy beans
    • pinto beans
    • soy beans
    • split peas
    • white beans

    Processed Soy Products

    • tofu (bean curd made from soybeans)
    • veggie burgers
    • tempeh
    • texturized vegetable protein (TVP)
  • Nuts and Seeds

    • almonds
    • cashews
    • hazelnuts (filberts)
    • mixed nuts
    • peanuts
    • peanut butter
    • pecans
    • pistachios
    • pumpkin seeds
    • sesame seeds
    • sunflower seeds
    • walnuts


    Finfish such as:

    • catfish
    • cod
    • flounder
    • haddock
    • halibut
    • herring
    • mackerel
    • pollock
    • porgy
    • salmon
    • sea bass
    • snapper
    • swordfish
    • trout
    • tuna

    Shellfish such as:

    • clams
    • crab
    • crayfish
    • lobster
    • mussels
    • octopus
    • oysters
    • scallops
    • squid (calamari)
    • shrimp

    Canned fish such as:

    • anchovies
    • clams
    • tuna
    • sardines
  • Use healthy plant oils. The glass bottle near the Healthy Eating Plate is a reminder to use healthy vegetable oils, like olive, canola, soy, corn, sunflower, peanut, and others, in cooking, on salad, and at the table. Limit butter, and avoid unhealthy trans fats from partially hydrogenated oils.
  • Drink water, coffee or tea. On the Healthy Eating Plate, complete your meal with a glass of water, or if you like, a cup of tea or coffee (with little or no sugar).  Limit milk and dairy products to one to two servings per day, since high intakes are associated with increased risk of prostate cancer and possibly ovarian cancer. Limit juice to a small glass per day, since it is as high in sugar as a sugary soda. Skip the sugary drinks, since they provide lots of calories and virtually no other nutrients. And over time, routinely drinking sugary drinks can lead to weight gain, increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, and possibly increase the risk of heart disease.
  • Stay active. The small red figure running across the Healthy Eating Plate’s placemat is a reminder that staying active is half of the secret to weight control. The other half is eating a healthy diet with modest portions that meet your calorie needs.


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