Food Groups for Good Nutrition
Author: Wayne Mcgregor
Published: 2009-02-22 : (Rev. 2015-06-04)
Synopsis and Key Points:
This diagram clearly outlines what the best foods are for you to eat and how much of them you should eat each day.
When it comes to good nutrition, what you should and shouldn't eat, and how much you should eat can be overwhelming and confusing.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has laid it out for everyone with their famous Food Pyramid, which has been updated in recent years. This diagram clearly outlines what the best foods are for you to eat, and how much of them you should eat each day.
By using this tool as a general guide for your diet, you will be able to maintain a healthy weight, in addition to receiving all of the nutrients that your body needs to function properly.
The Food Pyramid is broken down into 5 food groups.
Whole grains are an important source of energy. Whole grains are the best for us to eat, which are made from whole-wheat flour, rather than white flour. They are not as processed, and therefore still contain many of their vital nutrients and fiber. It is recommended that you eat 6-11 servings from this group each day.
Fruits & Vegetables
These nutrient-rich foods are all-natural because they come from the earth, and are loaded with many different nutrients, including fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron, potassium, and folic acid. Eat a wide variety of each to garner the greatest health benefits. Try to get 3-5 vegetable servings and 2-4 fruit servings per day.
Proteins help your body to build and retain muscle, as well as provide the energy you need each day. Protein-rich foods such as beans, lean meats, poultry, fish, and eggs also provide healthy doses of zinc and iron. Some of the foods in this group can be high in cholesterol, so keep that in mind when making food choices. 2-3 servings of protein are recommended each day.
Dairy products provide us with bone-building calcium, which is known to help prevent osteoporosis. While this is a very important food group to include in a balanced diet, it is important to remember that some dairy foods are high in fat, such as ice cream and cheese. Remember portion control, and try to get 2-3 servings of dairy daily.
Fats and sweets
While technically not a food group, this category is here because most people can't live without at least some of the tempting treats within! The foods in this group, which include butter, candy and desserts, oils, and sugars, provide very little nutritional benefit when consumed. Use these foods in moderation.
Following this pyramid will give you the tools to following a well-balanced diet. You might think that it is impossible to get than many servings of all the different types of foods in the pyramid. But there is something to think about, especially if you are trying to lose weight, or maintain a recent weight loss, and that is portion control. Portions can make or break a diet, and most people have no real idea of what a portion is. Therefore, most of us tend to eat a little (or a lot!) more than a suggested portion.
A portion is:
- 1 slice of bread
- 1/2 cup of cooked rice or pasta
- 3/4 cup (6 oz.) whole fruit juice
- 1/2 cup cooked vegetables
- 1 medium apple or banana
- 2-3 oz. of lean meat
- 1 cup of milk
- 1 1/2 oz. of natural cheese
When you see what a portion really is, you might realize that it isn't that difficult to fit all the right foods in to your daily diet!
Recommended Number of Food Guide Servings per Day
|2-3||4-8||9-13||14-18 Years||19-50 Years||51+ Years|
|Girls and Boys||Female||Male||Female||Male||Female||Male|
|Vegetables and Fruit||4||5||6||7||8||7-8||8-10||7||7|
|Milk and Alternatives||2||2||3-4||3-4||3-4||2||2||3||3|
|Meat and Alternatives||1||1||1-2||2||3||2||3||2||3|
Reference: Wayne Mcgregor has a degree in nutrition and dietetics, a diploma in fitness training, and a wealth of experience in helping people to lose weight and build muscle. His website (www.weightlossforall.com) provides hundreds of free weight loss articles, sample diets, tools and charts of calorie content of different foods.
- 1: Fruit, Vegetables, Grains and Nuts Help Lower Stroke Risk : American Heart Association (2014/10/31)
- 2: Health Consequences of Malnutrition : Thomas C. Weiss (2016/01/22)
- 3: Health Benefits of Beet Juice for Muscles : Penn State (2015/01/21)
- 4: Making a Healthier Homemade Pizza : Thomas C. Weiss (2015/01/20)
- 5: Diet Soda and Artificial Sweeteners Bad For Health : Thomas C. Weiss (2014/04/08)
- 6: Eggs and Cholesterol Good for You or Not? : Thomas C. Weiss (2016/01/12)
- 7: $16.8 Million to Help SNAP Participants Purchase Healthy Foods : U.S. National Institute of Food and Agriculture (2017/08/08)
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