If you’re looking for a solid way to lose weight, meal planning is a great place to start. It helps prevent you from making poor, hunger-based choices and will ensure that you always have healthy options on hand.
From Mediterranean and paleo to veganism and keto, there are many diets that have become popular of late. While some of these claim to aid weight loss, others promise to enhance overall health. However, if longevity and healthy aging are what you have in mind, you may want to know about a special diet plan. Back in 2011, nutrition experts at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health worked alongside researchers at Harvard Health Publications to compile the optimum diet for a longer life — called the Harvard diet.
Lilian Cheung, lecturer of nutrition at Harvard’s School of Public Health, told CNBC, “In terms of major chronic diseases like prevention of cardiovascular diseases, different types of cancers, and type 2 diabetes, this way of eating is going to be helpful to prevent those diseases that are common in America, and the world.”
Adding, Vini Narula, GOQii expert, Head of Coaching Quality, said that following the Harvard Diet has been found to “reduce the risk of developing such conditions by 11 per cent. Additionally, this diet has reportedly shown to increase the chances of living a healthy and longer life.”
Also known as Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate, this diet can be used as a guide for “creating healthy, balanced meals,” according to The Nutrition Source, a Harvard site that provides nutritional information.
Here is what the diet entails:
Vegetables and fruits should be prominent in most meals (1/2 of your plate)
Researchers suggest aiming for colour and variety when plating your vegetables, and eating a bit more veggies than fruits.
However, keep in mind that certain veggies, like the potato, cannot be considered a vegetable from a nutrition point of view, said Cheung. This is because “potatoes almost behave like a refined carbohydrate which increases your blood sugar“. Moreover, whole fruits are essential to add to meals and are recommended over juice.
“Incorporating a salad into one’s meal can be beneficial in reducing the portion size of the main course,” Narula told indianexpress.com.
Add in whole grains (1/4 of your plate)
The Harvard diet specifies the type of grains you must eat. Whole and intact grains such as whole wheat, barley, quinoa, oats, and brown rice are highly recommended over refined grains such as whole wheat pasta and white bread.
“Whole grains have much more vitamins and also phytochemicals and minerals, which is much healthier for us and won’t raise our blood sugar so fast,” Cheung said.
Get some healthy proteins (1/4 of your plate)
The diet highly encourages people to eat healthy and versatile proteins such as fish, chicken, beans, nut and duck. You should also limit your red meat consumption and avoid processed meats like bacon and sausage.
Additionally, Narula said, “Incorporating protein into meals can provide satiety, which can help regulate grain consumption.”
Cook with healthy oils (in moderation)
In order to avoid consuming unhealthy trans fats, you are suggested to not cook with partially hydrogenated oils like margarine and certain vegetable oils. Instead, it is recommended to reach for healthier options like olive, canola, soy, corn, sunflower and peanut oil.
Drink water, coffee or tea
The Harvard diet encourages you to alternate between water, tea and coffee to pair with your meals, with little to no sugar. It is suggested to reduce milk and dairy consumption to one to two servings per day and limit juice to a small glass per day. Meanwhile, you should skip sugary drinks altogether.
Cheung noted, “We need to engage for half an hour a day, or at least five times a week, in vigorous activity,” further encouraging to engage in physical activity such as brisk walking or fitness classes and avoid being sedentary most of the time.
“The best idea is to choose an activity one enjoys and can sustain in the long run,” Narula concluded.
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