As a kid, you probably covered the five food groups in health class, but have you really given much thought to them since? If you're counting calories and watching the scale at Rittenhouse Claridge in Philadelphia, consider the USDA's Food Groups Overview to be your refresher course on balanced eating. Here are the highlights:
Take a look at your dinner plate. Is about half of it covered by vegetables? If not, then the USDA advises you add more. Whether raw, mashed, frozen, canned, or in the form of 100% juice, the veggie group runs the gamut from leafy greens and starchy vegetables to beans and peas.
To include more fruit in your diet, the USDA recommends slicing bananas onto your cereal, topping dinner salads with blueberries, or tossing a package of applesauce into your lunch bag. In-season fruit is generally cheaper and at its peak of flavor. Canned fruit still counts toward your daily quota; however, be sure that the fruit is packaged in 100% fruit juice, not sugary syrup.
For people 19 years or older, the USDA recommends between five and eight ounces of healthy grains per day. Whole grains should be the focus here. That is, grains that still contain the entire grain kernel (bran, germ, and endosperm). On the other hand, refined grains (think white bread) have been processed to have their bran and germ removed, which greatly reduces their health benefits.
The meat group includes beef, chicken, seafood, and eggs. Vegetarians can get protein from processed soy products, nuts, seeds, beans, and peas. While recommended protein intake depends on a person's physical activity and other factors, the USDA suggests opting for lean cuts of meat and varying your protein choices.
If it's made from milk, then it's dairy. Milk, cheese, yogurt, calcium-enriched soymilk, cream cheese, cream, and butter are all dairy products. Choose low-fat varieties.
Food Groups [ChooseMyPlate.gov]