There are five main food groups you should know of – Fruits, Vegetables, Milk and milk alternatives, Meat and meat alternatives, and Grain Products. You should notice that oils and fats are not included here, because these should be used sparingly.
It is important that you include foods from each one of these food groups everyday to:
- Get all the necessary vitamins and minerals
- Prevent diseases and deficiencies
- Achieve overall health and vitality
The number of servings recommended for each food group is different based on different stages of life and gender. Here are the general recommendations:
This table represents the number of servings recommended for each group. You can use 2 – 3 tablespoons of unsaturated fat each day. People who are healthy and very active are encouraged to choose extra servings from each food group. Remember that when choosing foods they should be lower in added fat, sugar and salt, and are nutrient-dense, rather than calorie-dense.
Why should I care about food groups?
Food groups are just a way to classify your food and make it easier for you to remember to choose foods wisely. Each of the food groups has a unique combination of nutrients. Making sure you consume each one every day is important because some very important nutrients that your body needs are found only in one or more of these groups and not in another. So if you are eating only meats every day you may not be getting the vitamins which are found in other products. Getting the diverse nutrients from all of the food groups can help prevent deficiencies and some diseases.
Fruits and Vegetables
Contains: carbohydrates, fiber, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin A, magnesium and potassium
Does not contain: protein, fat, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, iron, zinc
Contains: carbohydrates, fiber, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium
Does not contain: protein, fat, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium
Milk and alternatives
Contains: protein, fat, carbohydrate, riboflavin, vitamin B12,vitamin A, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, magnesium, potassium
Does not contain: fiber, thiamin, niacin, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin C, iron
Meat and alternatives
Contains: protein, fat, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium
Does not contain: carbohydrate, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium