USDA’s My Plate vs. AICR’s The New American Plate

Written by Lena Gill, RD, CSO, CD

In case you may not have heard by now, the Food Guide Pyramid is gone–and hopefully most of the confusion along with it. It has been replaced with My Plate, a practical visual tool that encourages eating modest amounts from each food group.  Most health professionals agree this design is much more user friendly when compared to the original Food Guide Pyramid.  However, since we’ve encouraged AICR’s The New American Plate in a previous blog, you may be asking, “Which ‘plate plan’ is best to follow?”

To answer this question, let’s take at look at how these two plates compare:

  • The New American Plate recommends filling 2/3 of your plate with plant-based foods, such as whole-grains, fruits and vegetables, and limiting the animal proteins to the remaining 1/3 of your plate.  Low-fat dairy may be included, yet the focus is on a plant-based diet where dairy isn’t given equal status with veggies, fruits, and grains.  The goal with this plan is to utilize the naturally occurring antioxidants and phytochemicals found in plant-based foods to reduce your risk of cancer/recurring cancers.  The New American Plate was created to be consistent with the AICR Guidelines for Cancer Prevention.


  • My Plate suggests dividing your plate into quarters where each section includes a fruit, a vegetable, a grain (encouraging ½ or more of total grains in the day to be whole vs. white/refined) and a protein (animal or plant source), plus a serving of dairy.  This makes a balanced meal in the sense that it includes at least one serving from each of the 5 food groups at most meals.  All foods seem to be created equally and do not take into account specific dietary needs.  My Plate was created to be consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010.

Both encourage eating whole foods from each of the food groups and discourage excessive amounts of simple sugars, fats and sodium.  Following either one of these “plate plans” in the appropriate portions is likely to result in achieving a healthy body weight. This is a large part of the equation for reducing your chances of cancer, as well as other weight-related diseases (diabetes, heart disease, sleep disturbances, etc.).   If you are already at your ideal weight either method will help you maintain your weight.   In a nutshell, BOTH are excellent and provide similar benefits to your health.  The question you may want to ask yourself now is “Which plate is the easiest, most practical method for me to follow?”

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