Five keys to enjoying a healthy plate, according to Harvard experts

Fruits and vegetables should occupy half of the food plate (Photo: Capture)

More than 1.9 billion adults are overweight and obese in the world. This health problem also affects children: more than 41 million children under the age of five are overweight or obese. It is a disorder with multiple causes and involves an energy imbalance between calories consumed and expended.

Los nutrition experts at the Harvard School of Public Health and editors at Harvard University Health Journals, in the United States, they created the “Healthy Eating Plate”, which is part of a guide to prepare healthy and balanced meals and take care of your health.

Worldwide, overweight and obesity disorders have increased due to an increase in the intake of high-calorie foods that are rich in fat. At the same time, there was a decrease in physical activity. People are more sedentary due to new forms of work, modes of transport and the growing urbanization of recent decades.

Today overweight and obesity are a serious global public health problem (iStock)
Today overweight and obesity are a serious global public health problem (iStock)

“Often changes in eating habits and physical activity are a consequence of environmental and social changes associated with development and the lack of support policies in sectors such as health; the Agriculture; transport; urban planning; the environment; the processing, distribution and marketing of food, and education”, explained experts from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Being overweight is an important risk factor for non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases (mainly heart disease and stroke), diabetes, osteoarthritis, and some cancers (endometrial, breast, ovarian, prostate, liver, gallbladder, kidney, and colon). Meanwhile, childhood obesity is associated with a higher probability of obesity, premature death and disability in adulthood.

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According to Harvard experts, the Healthy Eating Plate can be considered both when preparing meals at home and when preparing meals to take away for snacks or lunch at work or school. At home, a copy can be printed and placed on the refrigerator for a daily reminder to prepare healthy, balanced meals.

– Half of the plate should contain vegetables and fruits

Try to incorporate color and variety into meals. Half of the plate should be occupied by vegetables, vegetables and fruits. Remember that potatoes (or potatoes) or French fries do not count as a vegetable because of their negative effect on blood sugar.

– A quarter of the plate can include whole grains

They recommend including whole and intact grains, such as whole wheat, barley, wheat grains, quinoa, oatmeal, brown rice. They also point out that foods made with such ingredients – whole wheat pasta – have a more moderate effect on blood sugar and insulin than white bread, white rice, and other refined grains.

– Another quarter of the plate should include protein

Harvard experts say that another quarter of your plate should include protein-providing foods like fish, chicken, legumes (legumes/beans), and nuts, which are healthy and versatile sources of protein. They can be mixed into salads, and go well with vegetables on a plate. They advise limiting your intake of red meat and avoiding processed meats such as bacon (with pancetta) and deli meats (for example, hot dogs).

A quarter of the plate should include protein, such as fish (Getty)
A quarter of the plate should include protein, such as fish (Getty)

– Consumption of healthy plant oils should be done in moderation

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Choose healthy vegetable oils like olive, canola, soybean, corn, sunflower, peanut, or others, and avoid partially hydrogenated oils. The latter 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.

– In addition to a healthy dish, you have to stay active daily

In the “Healthy Eating Plate” graphic, a running human figure was included. It’s a reminder that staying active is also important in weight management. You can take brisk walks, ride a bike, dance, among other activities.

The healthy plate should be complemented by daily physical activity, such as brisk walking, cycling, running or dancing (Getty)
The healthy plate should be complemented by daily physical activity, such as brisk walking, cycling, running or dancing (Getty)

In addition to the components of the plate to eat well, experts from Harvard They stressed that the type of carbohydrate in the diet is more important than the amount of carbohydrate. This is because some carbohydrate sources – such as vegetables (other than potatoes), fruits, whole grains, and legumes (beans) – are healthier than others.

They also advise consumerss avoid sugary drinks, a main source of calories – usually with little nutritional value. And they encourage consumers to use healthy oilsand does not set a maximum on the percentage of calories from healthy sources of fat that people should get each day.

It is necessary to avoid the consumption of French fries and sugary drinks, among other unhealthy products / Archive
It is necessary to avoid the consumption of French fries and sugary drinks, among other unhealthy products / Archive

“If a person is overweight, It is recommended that you consult a specialist so that you can make changes in your habits that lead to the reduction of the kilos that were gained during the pandemic. It is important that the person feels comfortable with the process of change. The medical professional can help stimulate the energy or initiative that the patient brings with them when starting the weight loss journey.“, said to Infobae Rosa Labanca, University medical nutritionist, director of the Assistance-Teaching-Research Center of the Argentine Society of Obesity (SAOTA) and representative for Argentina before the World Society of Obesity (IASO).

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According to Labanca, try to eat natural foods, such as vegetables and fruits, reduce processed foods as much as possible – such as cold cuts, pasta, and avoid ultra-processed products, such as cookies, sausages, sweets, jams, among other products-, that is, almost all industrialized products that have a label”, he claimed.

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