Remember having to memorize the four food groups when you were a kid and wondering if you were really going to need this information when you grew up?
Knowing the food groups helps you plan a well-balanced weight-loss diet. But today, thanks to the folks at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are six food groups. A healthy diet should incorporate foods from all of them:
Grains, breads and cereals provide fiber, vitamins and minerals. Eat 6 to 11 servings daily of foods like rice, pasta, bread, crackers, grits, pancakes, noodles, bagels, biscuits, corn muffins, English muffins. A sample serving is a slice of bread, an ounce of cereal or a half cup of cooked rice.
Vegetables contain loads of nutrients. Eat 3 to 5 servings daily. A serving is an average-size potato, a cup of carrots or a medium plate of salad. Be sure to consider the full range of vegetables. Besides potatoes and starchy vegetables, you need dark green vegetables like broccoli, spinach and lettuce. Deep yellow and orange veggies like carrots should also be on your regular menu.
Fruits are rich sources of vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals. Eat 2 to 4 servings a day. A serving equals an average size fruit, 6 ounces of fruit juice or 1/4 cup of dried fruit. Make half your daily fruit intake citrus fruits (like oranges) or berries.
Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, legumes (beans, peas and nuts) and seeds are good sources of protein, of which you need approximately 60 grams per day. These also provide many vitamins and minerals. Eat 2 to 3 servings daily. A serving equals about 5 to 7 ounces.
Dairy products are good sources of protein, calcium (especially good for children in building strong bones and also for women in helping prevent bone-weakening osteoporosis) and other minerals and vitamins. You should have 2 daily servings of milk, yogurt or cheese. A serving equals a cup of milk or yogurt, or an ounce of cheese.
Fats, sweets and alcohol are high in calories. They may be tempting, but they’re low in nutrition and should be consumed in moderation.