Harvard’s New Healthy Eating Guidelines: Drizzle On the Olive Oil

Harvard served up its blueprint for healthy eating, saying Uncle Sam’s recent dietary recommendations fall short in several areas, including the consumption of “beneficial fats” like olive oil. The feds, Harvard argues, should make it crystal clear that people should include olive oil and other “healthy oils” with their meals. “Use olive, canola, and other plant oils in cooking, on salads, and at the table, since these healthy fats reduce harmful cholesterol and are good for the heart,” the Harvard School of Public Health says this month in a news release outlining its healthy eating guidelines. “Limit butter and avoid trans fat.”

The university’s nutrition gurus note pointedly that Uncle Sam essentially is “silent” on the use of “beneficial fats.” By contrast, Harvard’s new Healthy Eating Plate icon, pictured above, features a cruet entitled “healthy oils” as well as other detailed recommendations.

The university’s guidelines come after the the U.S. Department of Agriculture unveiled its plate-shaped dietary icon in June. The USDA’s “MyPlate” replaced the food pyramid which guided Americans for nearly two decades.

The new USDA icon, based on the dietary guidelines the department issued last January, recommends half your plate consist of vegetables and fruits; vegetables account for the larger share. Grains and proteins make up the other half.

Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate is more detailed, emphasizing varying proportions of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, “healthy” proteins, “healthy” oils, and the consumption of water.

In its critique of the USDA’s guidelines, Harvard says Uncle Sam:

  • Fails to note that some high-protein foods—fish, poultry, beans, nuts—are healthier than red meats and processed meats
  • Doesn’t distinguish between potatoes (which Harvard says should be eaten in limited quantities) and other vegetables
  • Fails to note that “whole grains are better for health than refined grains”
  •  Recommends dairy at every meal, “even though there is little evidence that high dairy intake protects against osteoporosis but substantial evidence that high intake can be harmful”
  • Says nothing about sugary drinks and the need to “avoid” them
  • Doesn’t mention the “importance” of staying active

“Unfortunately, like the earlier U.S. Department of Agriculture Pyramids, MyPlate mixes science with the influence of powerful agricultural interests, which is not the recipe for healthy eating,” says Walter Willett, Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition and chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

“The Healthy Eating Plate is based on the best available scientific evidence and provides consumers with the information they need to make choices that can profoundly affect our health and well being.”

The brouhaha comes as two in three adults and one in three children are overweight or obese in the United States. Harvard says its Healthy Eating Plate is based on scientific evidence showing that “a plant-based diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and healthy proteins lowers the risk of weight gain and chronic disease.”

Sincerely,

Your friends at California Olive Ranch

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