The New American Plate

The New American Plate

If you’re wondering how to include healthier, plant-based foods in your diet, look no further than the New American Plate guidelines. The New American Plate was created by the American Institute for Cancer Research and is centered around providing a framework for each meal to include a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans. The focus is on unprocessed plant foods, which means each plate of food will feature a balanced distribution of nutrients including fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. This makes the New American Plate a reputable resource for  lowering the risk of certain cancers and other chronic diseases. 

Not to be confused with MyPlate, which was created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the New American Plate focuses on applying the guidelines for cancer prevention. Examples include limiting red meat, and a focus on minimally processed whole plant foods which means more fiber, known to reduce risk of certain cancers.  

Following the New American Plate means that you’ll fill at least two-thirds of your plate with vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans. Then, at most, one-third of your plate can be filled with a lean protein like fish or chicken. The key is to be flexible and “eat the rainbow,” challenging yourself to have as many colors on your plate as possible. When you have a variety of colors on your plate, you’ll get more benefits from phytonutrients.  

Since the New American Plate is plant focused, most of the sources of fat will be low in saturated and trans fats which are known contributors to chronic health issues like heart disease. Some examples of the healthy fats you may find in a plant focused diet include avocados, nuts and seeds. Your body uses these healthy fats for brain health and improved cellular activity.  

Changing your approach to nutrition 

If processed and prepackaged meals have been your mainstay, start with a few changes in your routine to make eating in a style consistent with the New American Plate doable. Below are some tips to get started. 

Tips on How to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables 

  • To start, pick fruits and vegetables you are familiar with, then slowly add one new fruit, vegetable and/or grain to your cart every time you go to the store.  
  • Serve a salad with every meal. Use this collection for inspiration.  
  • Try new herbs and spices to expand your kitchen’s flavor profile. 
  • Shop the perimeter of the grocery store where fresh foods are usually found. 

Sample one-day menu for eating the New American Plate 


Overnight Oatmeal with Fresh Fruit and coffee 


Spice-Marinated Roasted Chicken and a large garden salad with avocado dressing 


Easy Poached Salmon, steamed green beans, roasted cherry tomatoes, steamed millet and a mixed greens salad with lemon juice as a dressing. 

The New American Plate may represent a new culinary adventure for you, or you might already be a veteran at eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, either way, the goal is to make them the star of your meals.   

Additional References & Resources:

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