Other experts, however, expressed worry that Harvard's model is too complex.
"People struggle to make changes, so simple steps make changes seem less daunting," said Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis. "Healthy eating is about proper food choices and portions, along with enjoyment -- not fear or avoidance."
"Perhaps we should aim to show a breakfast plate, lunch plate, snack plate or in some cases, a bowl to illustrate the concept, i.e., a turkey wrap with roasted veggies and an apple embraces the plate, but in one item," said Leslie Bonci, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. She believes visual elements are more effective.
Others disagree with some of Harvard's dietary recommendations.
"Not everyone needs whole grains with every meal," said Molly Kimball, sports and lifestyle nutritionist at Elmwood Fitness Center in New Orleans. "If they get penty of fiber-rich veggies and they have the carbs from fresh fruit and/or low-fat dairy, they may not need to double up on the carbs/calories of a whole grain starch."
"Milk and dairy should not be limited for children, women and for the elderly. Low fat types of dairy should instead be chosen," said Carla Wolper, assistant professor of eating disorders research at Columbia University.
But Willett believes the Healthy Eating Plate will ultimately lead people to make better choices.
"There is a huge amount of data to support the benefits of healthy food choices, and they make a very, very big difference in people's health," he said.