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Wellness Wednesday: The H3 Plate

H3 Plate_small

In 1992 the Food Guide Pyramid was released with much fanfare. It was supposed give people a simple picture of what a healthy diet should be.  Consumers found it anything but simple, and in fact it created more confusion than guidance. So in 2011 the USDA’s food pyramid was replaced by a plate.  The change made sense, as Marion Nestle, Ph.D. professor of nutrition at New York University put it, “we are people, we don’t eat pyramids, and we eat off of plates.”  Most found the new MyPlate a vast improvement over the pyramid. H3 agrees.  MyPlate is much easier follow, and clearly communicates the message we should be consuming a plant based diet with an abundance of vegetable and fruits, moderate amounts of grains and protein sources.

While the MyPlate was big step in the right direction, H3 felt there was more room for improvement. So we are happy to announce the release of the new H3 Plate, a visual guide to healthy eating. The H3 Plate provides a more complete picture and is more specific in its recommendations for attaining a healthy lifestyle. Here are a few key points that distinguish the H3 Plate from the USDA’s MyPlate.

The MyPlate is divided into four categories, Vegetables, Fruits, Grains, and Protein; H3’s also has four categories but emphasize Non Starchy Vegetable, Whole Grains, Healthy Proteins along with fruits.

Like the MyPlate, the H3 Plate recommends that vegetables and fruits make up half of the total plate.  We make the important distinction between non starchy vegetables and starchy ones; the USDA version groups them together.  H3 specifically recommend the consumption of at least 3 servings of non starchy vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens, green beans, summer squash, carrots etc.) a day. There is no limit, the more non starchy veggies the better. Starchy vegetables (potato, sweet potato, beets, winter squash) are encouraged in moderate consumption and are included as part of the whole grain group.

Both versions of the plate recommend the daily consumption of fruit. The USDA version allows fruit juice to count as a part of the fruit group. While small amounts of fruit juice is acceptable, the H3 Plate recommends the consumption of while fruit to meet the recommended intake. Whole fruits provide more fiber, are more filling and satisfying than juice.

MyPlate  recommends at least 50% of the grains you consume be whole grains. 50% is better than none but that still allows for a significant intake of refined grains within the guidelines. H3 encourages the consumption of grains as well but encourage they all be whole grains. Whole grains provide fiber and important nutrients lost in the refining process. We have also included other healthy sources of carbohydrates including legumes, and starchy vegetables in this category.

Rather than having its own group, as it does on MyPlate, H3 included dairy as a component of two groups.  Beverages and Healthy Protein, we recommend 2 servings per day.  Because of their versatility legumes are also listed in two groups, Whole Grains and Healthy Proteins.

The H3 Plate has a sidebar that complements the main message of the H3 Plate.  Acknowledging the importance of healthy fats and oils, beverages, and flavor enhancers such as herbs, spices, vinegars and salsas to add boldness with less sodium.

Finally the H3 plate recommends a 10” plate. Plate size does matter, the larger the plate we use, the more we serve ourselves. Research suggests that a 10” plate, as compared to the standard 11 – 11 ½”,   is the optimal size.  Using a smaller plate is a simple subconscious way to curtail overeating.

H3 Plate