What are the main food groups for healthy diet?

The five main groups are fruits and vegetables, potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy carbohydrates, beans, legumes, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins, dairy products and alternatives, oils and spreads. A healthy diet means eating a wide variety of foods from each of the five major food groups, in the recommended amounts. Eating a variety of foods from the 5 main food groups provides a variety of nutrients to the body, promotes good health and can help reduce the risk of diseases, in addition to maintaining an interesting diet with different flavors and textures. No matter where you start, it's easy to make small changes to make your diet more in line with Australia's dietary guidelines.

Just focus on eating foods from the 5 main food groups and reducing occasional food intake. The Australian Healthy Eating Guide groups the foods that should be part of our daily diet into 5 main food groups. Foods are grouped together because they provide similar amounts of key nutrients. For example, the main nutrients in the milk, yogurt, cheese and alternatives group include calcium and protein, while the fruit group is a good source of vitamins, especially vitamin C.

Think about how often you consume food and drinks prepared outside the home. If you do this regularly, consider reducing your intake and focusing more on the five main food groups. That doesn't mean you have to stop doing it completely. It's one of the main sources of vitamin B12, an important vitamin found only in animal foods, such as meat and milk.

Try to minimize foods such as butter, margarine, cooking oils and salad dressings and save chocolate, chips, sugary soft drinks, candies, jam, cream, pies, puddings, cookies and pastries for the occasional treat. Following a varied and well-balanced diet means eating a variety of foods from each of the 5 food groups on a daily basis, in the recommended amounts. The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating External link describes how many servings you and your family need each day, and the standard serving sizes for food and drinks. The Eatwell Guide shows the proportions in which different types of food are needed to have a healthy and balanced diet.

The USDA dietary patterns provide the recommended amounts for each food group and subgroup at 12 different calorie levels, ranging from 1000 to 3200. 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. Because different foods provide different types and amounts of key nutrients, it's important to choose a variety of foods from each food group. However, if these foods regularly replace other, more nutritious and healthy foods in the diet, the risk of developing obesity and chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer, increases.

Foods and drinks that are high in fat, salt, or sugar include chocolate, cakes, cookies, savoury snacks, and soft drinks high in sugar.