How to follow Harvard's healthy eating pyramid

Harvard's healthy eating pyramid encourages healthy eating combined with physical exercise.

Harvard’s healthy eating pyramid, from the Harvard School of Health, is designed to help maintain a healthy diet with focus on daily exercise and weight control.

At the foundation, which is the largest part of Harvard’s healthy eating pyramid, is daily exercise and weight control. No matter how nutritious a diet is, it’s only truly healthy when normal weight is maintained and you are getting regular physical activity.

As Harvard’s healthy eating pyramid rises; foods that are at the bottom should be consumed most frequently. This includes eating more whole grains, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables. Fruits should be about 2-3 servings (1 piece of fruit or 4 oz). Vegetables should be 3 or more servings (6 oz) a day. Nuts are 1-3 servings (2 oz) per day.

The next step on the pyramid is about 1-2 servings (4 oz or 1 egg) of fish, eggs and poultry. Followed by 1-2 servings (8 oz. non fat or 4 oz. of whole) of dairy and calcium supplements.

At the very top of Harvard’s healthy eating pyramid are the foods that should be consumed less frequently. These are foods such as refined starches, red meat, butter and sweets.

It’s important to note that the pyramid focuses not on serving sizes but rather on the quality of foods. The main fact to remember when following the pyramid is the emphasis on eating more foods from the base rather than the top.

Harvard’s healthy eating pyramid is a flexible guide on how to eat properly that can be adapted to anyone’s lifestyle and diet. In a Healthy Eating Special Report from Harvard School of Health, the “good fats” in the pyramid have been shown to keep arteries clear, allowing the heart to beat normally. It also states that the risk for heart disease and hypertension can be lowered by 90 percent by following a healthy diet. Vegetarians can follow Harvard’s healthy eating pyramid by simply consuming more beans, nuts and other sources of protein from plants.