Few educational institutions have as much prestige in the world as Harvard. If you ask any ordinary citizen, this is definitely one of the first universities that comes to mind. The brightest minds in the world they went there, or so the gossip says. From Mark Zuckerberg to Bill Gates, via Barack Obama: all these outstanding personalities in their respective fields have gone through the prestigious Harvard University.
This prestige has also been extrapolated over the years to the field of nutrition, despite the complexity of this area of knowledge. However, the Harvard School of Public Health has masterfully summarized the criteria we must follow to eat healthy through the chart known as “The Harvard Healthy Eating Plate”.
The truth is that the name has little fantasy, but it is very descriptive. Harvard doesn’t beat around the bush when it comes to designation, they go to nougat. Well, in this case, broccoli, which is healthier.
How the Harvard Plate is Organized
This plaque-like visual diagram is intended to be a key tool in nutrition education for both children and adults. That does not mean that we must necessarily distribute all our contributions like that, in the form of a plate. But this serves as an approximation to know the ideal distribution of the different healthy food groups in our diet. Fortunately, the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate leaves out some confusing elements that contain other outdated and outdated tables, such as the infamous Nutritional Pyramids.
The Harvard Plate focuses on what really matters: includes only healthy foods which should be promoted from a public health point of view. Other elements harmful to health such as alcoholic beverages, carbonated drinks or sweets are excluded from this recommendation. Because yes, these products can be taken on occasion, but that does not mean that they should be included in a chart focused on improving the health of the population. Otherwise, we run the risk of minimizing its dangers and normalizing the consumption of products that should be kept as far away as possible from our food routine.
On the other hand, the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate recommends healthy fat intake such as olive oil, sunflower oil and rapeseed oil. This latter fat is also known as canola or rapeseed oil, although it is less common. This is logical, since rapeseed oil has a very bad reputation in Spain.
The reason was a terrible massive food poisoning that occurred in the 80s following the consumption of adulterated rapeseed oil: a powerful toxic to health. This dramatic event forever tarnished the name of rapeseed oil, causing some stigma and fear in the population just by hearing its name. But, as Matías Prats would say: allow me to insist. Rapeseed oil is a completely safe and healthy fat, so do not hesitate to consume it as part of your usual routine: it contains 65% monounsaturated fatty acids in its nutritional composition, very close to canola oil. ‘olive.
Half of the plate must be made up of vegetables
One of the best perspectives that the Harvard Plate offers us is related to the consumption of vegetables, since it allows us to understand the importance that this food group has for our health. Vegetables should take up half of our platetrying to vary between different vegetables, fruits and vegetables: the more types and colors we consume, the better.
Be careful with potatoes: we should not include them in this group. They are tubers with a high carbohydrate and energy load that vary in nutritional composition from other vegetables, so they should be considered separately. Don’t take potato tirria either: These are not demon foods, but they should be consumed according to our level of physical activity. In addition, within the vegetable group, a distinction is made between greens and vegetables: they should occupy approximately 35% of the plate. On the other hand, fruits represent 15% of our total intake.
Whole grains and healthy proteins
The other half of the Harvard plate is divided between two elements of great nutritional interest: whole grains and healthy sources of protein. 25% is occupied by whole grains. That is to say foods made from whole grains: wholemeal bread, wholemeal pasta and brown rice. It is recommended to limit foods made from refined grains such as rice and white bread.
On the other hand, occupying the remaining 25% of the Harvard plate are healthy protein sources: fish, poultry (chicken, turkey), legumes (lentils, peanuts, chickpeas, soy or beans) and nuts (walnuts , almonds, cashew nuts). ). ). It is recommended to avoid red and processed meats such as deli meats and sausages. Regarding dairy products, no particular consumption recommendation is made. What we are told is that limit the consumption of milk, cheese and yogurt to 1-2 servings a dayso as not to displace other healthy foods of interest already mentioned in the graph.
As for drinks, the Harvard Plate recommends the consumption of water, tea or coffee with little or no sugar. It is also recommended to limit the consumption of fruit juice to one small glass per day due to its free sugar content. Finally, let’s not forget physical activity. To finish the job on other healthy habits adjacent to food, the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate leaves us with a motivational message in true Mr Wonderful style: stay active! So now you know: listen to the Harvard School of Public Health. They know more than you and me from here to Lima.