Power Plate Offers Healthy Alternative to USDA Pyramid
User-Friendly Graphic Emphasizes Low-Fat Vegetarian Foods, Eliminates Confusing Portion Suggestions
WASHINGTON—Fill your plate with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes each day to keep the doctor away, say doctors and dietitians with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. The nonprofit organization is running a full-page advertisement in March’s Today’s Dietitian urging nutrition professionals to use its new Power Plate graphic as a healthful alternative to the USDA Food Pyramid.
PCRM’s Power Plate is a colorful, user-friendly graphic that depicts a plate divided into four new food groups: fruits, grains, legumes, and vegetables. PCRM nutrition experts researched Institute of Medicine and World Health Organization reports and concluded that plant-based foods are the most nutrient-dense and aid in preventing cancer, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. The Power Plate, unlike the Pyramid, has no confusing portion sizes and food hierarchies; it simply asks that people eat a variety of all four food groups each day.
“People eat from plates, not pyramids,” said PCRM nutrition education director Susan Levin, M.S., R.D. “We need easy-to-use dietary guidance tools that teach people how to eat right to fight chronic diseases. Studies show people who eat mostly from the four Power Plate food groups have the lowest risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.”
An interactive Web site, ThePowerPlate.org, includes more information on disease-fighting, plant-based diets, and special sections for educators and health professionals.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will soon unveil its latest dietary guidelines. The USDA’s Food Pyramid, introduced in 1991, was a major step forward compared to past dietary recommendations because it asked people to eat more fruits and vegetables. But the Pyramid, and its later versions, recommend two to three servings each of meat and dairy products daily despite evidence that these foods raise cholesterol, increase blood pressure and speed the onset of diabetes.
The average American now consumes more than 215 pounds of meat each year—up from 144 pounds in 1950. Meanwhile, two-thirds of Americans are now overweight or obese, and one in three children born in 2000 will develop Type 2 diabetes in their lifetimes.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.