Groups

The following Food Group information is based on the MyPlate food group descriptions. MyPlate divides foods into five main groups, plus two other groups that provide additional information. For more detailed food group information, see the MyPlate government website: www.choosemyplate.gov

Grains Group

Grains are any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain. Whole grains are those that contain the whole grain kernel and refined grains are those that have been milled, which removes the bran (a source of fiber) and the germ (a source of nutrients).

More details...

Most refined grains are enriched with certain B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folic acid) and iron. Fiber is not added back to enriched grains. At least half of all grains consumed should be whole grains. Look for salt free, lower fat options.

Nutrients

Grains provide our bodies with many nutrients that are needed to maintain health and help prevent disease. These nutrients include fiber; vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate; and minerals such as iron, magnesium and selenium.

Serving Size

The grain recommendation is counted in terms of "ounce equivalents". In general, 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of dry cereal or 1/2 cup of cooked cereal, rice or pasta can be considered 1 ounce equivalent from the grains group. These are common measures that approximate 1 ounce in weight.

Examples of 1 ounce equivalent of refined grain:

1/4 large plain bagel
1 mini plain bagel
1 small biscuit
1 slice wheat bread
1 slice white bread
1 cup cereal flakes
1-1/4 cups puffed cereal
1 small piece cornbread
7 saltine crackers
1/2 plain English muffin
1 small bran muffin
1 small corn muffin
1 small plain muffin
1 plain pancake
1/2 cup noodles
1/2 cup white rice
1 corn tortilla (6")
1 flour tortilla (6")

Examples of 1 ounce equivalent of whole grain:

At least half of all grains consumed should be whole grains.

1/4 large whole wheat bagel
1 mini whole wheat bagel
1/2 cup cooked bulgur
1 slice whole wheat bread
1 cup whole wheat cold cereal
1/2 cup cooked oatmeal
5 whole wheat crackers
1/2 whole wheat English muffin
1 small whole wheat muffin
1 whole wheat pancake
1 buckwheat pancake
3 cups popcorn
1/2 cup whole wheat noodles
1/2 cup brown rice
1 whole wheat tortilla (6")
1 whole grain corn tortilla (6")

Less common whole grains include: amaranth, millet, quinoa, sorghum, and triticale. Some products are made from a mixture of whole and refined grains. Check the ingredient list and look for the words "whole grain" or "whole wheat" as the first ingredient.

Less details...

Vegetables Group

Any vegetable or 100% vegetable juice counts as a member of the vegetables group. Vegetables may be raw or cooked, fresh, frozen, canned, or dried; and may be whole, cut-up, or mashed. Low sodium varieties are recommended.

More details...

Added sauces typically count as extra empty calories. The Dietary Guidelines organize vegetables into five subgroups based on their nutrient content. The recommendations include weekly guidelines for each vegetable subgroup, to encourage a varied intake.

Nutrients

Vegetables provide our bodies with many nutrients that are needed to maintain health and help prevent disease. These nutrients include fiber; vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, and vitamin E; and minerals such as potassium. Most vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories.

Serving Size

The vegetable recommendations are counted in terms of "cup equivalents". These are common measures that approximate 1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables or vegetable juice, or 2 cups of raw leafy greens.

Examples of 1 cup equivalent of vegetables from the five subgroups:

Dark Green Vegetables

1 cup cooked or raw broccoli
1 cup cooked collards
1 cup cooked kale
1 cup cooked mustard greens
1 cup cooked turnip greens
2 cups raw endive
2 cups raw escarole
2 cups raw green lettuce
2 cups raw romaine
2 cups raw spinach
2 cups raw watercress

Red/Orange Vegetables

12 baby carrots
1 cup cooked or raw carrots
1 cup cooked or raw red pepper
1 cup cooked pumpkin
1 cup cooked acorn squash
1 cup cooked butternut squash
1 cup cooked hubbard squash
1 cup cooked sweet potato
1 cup chopped tomato
1 cup tomato juice

Dry Beans & Peas

Dry Beans & Peas are also in the protein foods group because they are important sources of protein, especially for vegetarians and vegans.

1 cup cooked black beans
1 cup cooked garbanzo beans
1 cup cooked kidney beans
1 cup cooked pinto beans
1 cup refried beans
1 cup cooked soy beans
1 cup cooked black eyed peas
1 cup cooked split peas
1 cup cooked lentils
1 cup tofu
2 cups lentil soup

Starchy Vegetables

1 large ear of corn
1 cup cooked corn
1 cup cooked green peas
1 cup cooked potatoes
1 cup mashed potatoes
20 medium french fries

Other Vegetables

1 cup cooked bean sprouts
1 cup cooked or raw cabbage
1 cup cooked or raw cauliflower
1 cup celery
2 stalks celery
1 cup cucumber
1 cup cooked green beans
2 cups iceberg lettuce
1 cup cooked or raw green pepper
1 cup cooked or raw mushrooms
1 cup cooked or raw summer squash
1 cup cooked or raw zucchini

Less details...

Fruits Group

Any fruit or 100% fruit juice counts as part of the fruit group. Fruits may be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried, and may be whole, cut-up or pureed. For optimal nutritional value, choose whole fruits over juices whenever possible. Choose canned fruits that are packed in water or juice rather than syrup.

More details...

Nutrients

Fruits provide our bodies with a variety of nutrients that are needed to maintain health and help prevent disease, so it is important to include a variety of them in your diet. These nutrients include fiber; vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate; and minerals such as potassium. Most fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium and calories.

Serving Size

The fruit recommendation is counted in terms of "cup equivalents". These are common measures that approximate 1 cup of fruit or 100% juice, or 1/2 cup of dried fruit.

Examples of 1 cup equivalent of fruit:

Fresh, Frozen, and Canned Fruit


1 small (2.5") apple
1/2 large (3.25") apple
1 cup sliced apple
1 cup applesauce
1 large (8" to 9") banana
1 cup sliced banana
1 cup diced cantaloupe
32 seedless grapes
1 cup grapes
1 medium (4") grapefruit
1 cup grapefruit sections
1 cup canned fruit cocktail
1 large (3") orange
1 cup orange sections
1 cup mandarin oranges
1 large (2-3/4") peach
2 peach halves
1 cup sliced peaches
1 medium pear
1 cup sliced pears
1 cup pineapple
3 medium plums
2 large plums
1 cup sliced plum
8 large strawberries
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 small wedge watermelon
1 cup diced watermelon

Dried Fruit

1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup prunes
1/2 cup raisins

Fruit Juice

1 cup apple juice
1 cup grape juice
1 cup grapefruit juice
1 cup orange juice

Less details...

Dairy Group

Dairy group foods include fluid milk, many products made from milk, and calcium fortified milk substitutes. Foods made from milk that have little calcium, such as cream cheese, cream, and butter are not included in this group (these foods are considered empty calories).

More details...

It is recommended to choose fat free or low fat foods from the dairy group, to obtain the nutrient value with the least amount of fat. Lactose-free and lower-lactose products, such as hard cheeses and yogurts are available for those who do not tolerate milk sugar. If you don't or can't consume milk at all, be sure to include calcium-fortified foods such as soy milk or orange juice in your diet.

Nutrients

Foods from the dairy group provide our bodies with many nutrients that are needed to maintain health and help prevent disease. These nutrients include protein, vitamin D, and minerals such as calcium and potassium.

Serving Size

The dairy group recommendation is counted in terms of "cup equivalents". These are common measures that approximate the nutritional value of 1 cup of milk.

Examples of 1 cup equivalent of foods from the dairy group:

1 cup milk
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1-1/2 oz cheddar cheese
1-1/2 oz mozzarella cheese
1-1/2 oz swiss cheese
1-1/2 oz parmesan cheese
2 oz low fat cheese
2 cups cottage cheese
1-1/2 cups ice cream
1 cup pudding
1 cup yogurt
1 cup frozen yogurt
1 cup fortified soy milk
1 cup fortified soy pudding
1 cup fortified soy yogurt

Less details...

Protein Foods Group

All foods made from meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dry beans & peas, soy products, nuts, and seeds are considered part of the protein foods group. Diets that include meat should provide a variety of low fat, low sodium meat, poultry and fish. Vegetarian diets should include plant-based protein sources such as dry beans & peas, soy products, nuts and seeds.

More details...

The Dietary Guidelines discuss the health benefits of obtaining more of your daily protein from plant-based foods, and divide the protein foods into several subgroups in order to provide guidance for plant-based diets. The subgroups suggest weekly amounts needed for a nutritionally adequate diet.

Nutrients

Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, soy products, dry beans & peas, nuts and seeds provide our bodies with many nutrients that are needed to maintain health and help prevent disease. These nutrients include protein; vitamins such as niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6 and vitamin E; and minerals such as iron, zinc, and magnesium. Fish, nuts and seeds provide more polyunsaturated fats, which contain essential fatty acids. Dry beans & peas provide more dietary fiber, potassium and folate.

Serving Size

The protein foods group recommendation is counted in terms of "ounce equivalents". These are common measures that provide similar protein to 1 ounce of meat.

Examples of 1 ounce equivalent from the protein foods group:

Meat

1 ounce cooked beef
1 ounce cooked pork
1 ounce cooked lamb

Poultry

1 oz cooked chicken
1 oz cooked turkey
1 oz cooked cornish game hen
1 sandwich slice of turkey

Fish

The Dietary Guidelines encourage eating fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, white tuna, swordfish, or bluefish. Adults and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are advised to eat 8 ounces of high omega-3 seafood per week. Because of the high mercury content, pregnant and breastfeeding women should limit their intake of white tuna to 6 ounces per week, and should avoid tilefish, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel.

1 oz cooked salmon
1 oz cooked shrimp
1 oz canned tuna

Eggs

1 egg
1/4 cup egg substitute
1/4 cup egg whites

Dry Beans & Peas

Dry beans & peas are also included in the vegetables group.

1/4 cup cooked black beans
1/4 cup cooked baked beans
1/4 cup cooked garbanzo beans
1/4 cup cooked kidney beans
1/4 cup cooked pinto beans
1/4 cup cooked split peas
1/4 cup cooked white beans
1/4 cup refried beans
1/4 cup cooked lentils
1/2 cup bean soup
1/2 cup lentil soup
1/2 cup split pea soup
1 falafel patty

Soy Products

1/4 cup tofu
1/4 cup roasted soybeans
1 oz tempeh
1/2 soy patty
1 oz meat analog

Nuts & Seeds

Nuts & Seeds also contribute to the oil group recommendation.

12 almonds
24 pistachios
7 walnut halves
1 Tbsp almond butter
1 Tbsp peanut butter
5 tsp sunflower seeds

Less details...

Other

It's important to consider oils and empty calories in planning a healthy diet.

Oils

Oils are fats that are liquid at room temperature. They come from many different plants; such as corn, safflower, nuts, olives, avocados; and from some fish. Oils are important to include in the diet because they provide essential fatty acids that the body needs to maintain wellness. Trans fats are added to some oils, particularly those in margarines or nut butters, to prolong shelf life. Try to reduce the amount of trans fats in your diet by checking Nutrition Facts labels and choosing foods that do not contain trans fat.

More details...

Nutrients

Oils are a concentrated source of calories and are generally consumed in smaller amounts than other foods. They provide our bodies with nutrients that are needed to maintain health and help prevent disease. These nutrients include essential fatty acids (which are polyunsaturated fats) and vitamin E. The oil recommendation is counted in teaspoons.

Foods in the oil group that provide 1 tsp of oil include:

Oils

1 tsp canola oil
1 tsp corn oil
1 tsp cottonseed oil
1 tsp peanut oil
1 tsp safflower oil
1 tsp soybean oil
1 tsp sunflower oil

Foods that are Rich in Oils

1 tsp soft margarine
1 tsp mayonnaise
1 Tbsp light Italian dressing
1 Tbsp light Ranch dressing
8 large olives
1/4 small avocado
1 Tbsp peanut butter *
1 Tbsp almond butter *
12 almonds *
7 walnut halves *
24 pistachios *
5 tsp sunflower seeds *

* Nuts and seeds are part of the protein foods group and contribute both protein and important oils to the diet.

Less details...

Empty Calories

The MyPlate food group recommendations assume that you are choosing a variety of lower fat foods from each food group. If this is so, you may be able to meet your nutritional needs and have some extra calories left over to play with. Extra calories from solid fats, added sugars and alcohol are considered empty calories because they offer calories but few or no other nutrients.

More details...

Empty calories are those above what are needed to meet your food group goals, and should make up no more than 5-15% of total calories. The Empty Calorie numbers are meant to be estimates and are not necessarily daily targets.

Nutrients

Solid Fats

Solid fats like butter and shortening may contain saturated fat or trans fat, which can have a negative impact on health. Foods high in solid fats include ice cream, cookies, donuts, pastries, croissants, sausages, bacon, and regular cheese.

Sugar

Sugar added to foods provides calories but little other nutritional value. Foods high in added sugars include regular soft drinks, fruit drinks, and candy.

Alcoholic Drinks

Alcoholic drinks also provide calories but little other nutritional value. Alcoholic drinks include beer, wine, and mixed drinks. The Dietary Guidelines recommend that if alcohol is consumed, it should be done so in moderation and only by adults. Moderate alcohol consumption is defined as one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men. One drink is defined as 12 fl oz of beer, 5 fl oz of wine, or 1.5 fl oz of liquor. Evidence suggests that four or more drinks per day for women and five or more drinks per day for men has harmful health effects. Some situations call for the complete avoidance of alcoholic beverages.

Less details...