What are the 6 main food groups?

Think about how your food choices combine throughout the day or week. Eat different types of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and alternatives to dairy products and fortified soy. Each of the food groups listed below plays an important role in your daily diet. You're probably familiar with the top five, but the last group may surprise you.

According to the MyPlate Guide, a quarter of your plate should contain grains. Half of the servings of grains should come from whole grains, which means that the grain contains all three parts of the grain: bran, germ and endosperm. Whole grains are a source of magnesium, B vitamins and fiber that work together to reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, while promoting a healthy metabolism. Vegetables are packed with good nutrition and are naturally low in fat and cholesterol free.

The MyPlate guide recommends that half of your plate contain vegetables and fruits. Vegetables provide a variety of nutrients, including potassium, fiber, folic acid, vitamin A, and vitamin C. A diet rich in vegetables reduces the risk of many diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Fruits, like vegetables, are nutritional sources that should make up half of your plate at mealtime, along with vegetables.

Fruits are good sources of potassium, vitamin C, folic acid, and fiber. Fruits, such as vegetables, contain antioxidants that protect cells against harmful free radicals. Many fruits are also naturally low in calories and can contribute to a healthy weight when consumed, rather than high-calorie foods. Dairy products contain all the nutrients essential for bone health, including potassium, calcium, and vitamin D.

Research indicates that incorporating milk and dairy products into the diet can help promote bone health and is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. The potassium in dairy products also helps lower blood pressure. With the creation of MyPlate, the USDA eliminated oils as a food group. However, oils are often used in cooking and are added to other foods in the form of salad dressings or sauces.

Oils provide essential fatty acids and the antioxidant vitamin E and are part of a healthy diet. The six essential nutrients are vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, water and carbohydrates. People need to consume these nutrients from dietary sources for the body to function properly. Some of the food groups are further divided into subgroups to emphasize foods that are particularly good sources of certain vitamins and minerals.

Measuring your daily oils can be difficult, since you know what you add when cooking or baking is one thing, but oil is naturally part of some foods. Keep in mind that the amount you should eat to maintain your weight depends on your age, gender and level of physical activity. Once you have eaten enough of the healthy foods described above to meet your needs for essential nutrients, you will have calories left over. Each food group includes a variety of foods that have a similar nutritional composition, and each group plays an important role in an overall healthy eating pattern.

The plant food group includes dark green vegetables, red and orange vegetables, starchy vegetables, and legumes (beans and peas). Cereals, along with fruits, vegetables and dairy products, contain carbohydrates, the body's main source of energy. Any food made from wheat, rye, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or other grains is a grain-based product. Although the functions of foods are the same, the six food groups in the food guide pyramid have evolved.

The five food groups As shown by the My Plate icon, the five food groups are fruits, vegetables, cereals, protein foods and dairy products. Understanding the different food groups and how much of each of them should form your diet can help you establish a healthy eating pattern over time. A quarter of your plate should contain protein foods, such as meat, eggs, fish, seafood, nuts and seeds.