There are five main food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy. These food groups are the building blocks for a healthy, nutritious diet leading to an overall healthy body.
The fruit food group encompasses a large amount of edible fruits including citrus, tropical, berries and melons, pome fruits and stone fruits. The USDA recommends 1/2 to 2 cups of fruit per day, depending on age and activity level.
The vegetable group is divided into subgroups which include dark green vegetables, red and orange vegetables, starchy vegetables and beans and peas. The purpose of the subgroups is to encourage eating a wide variety of vegetables in order to consume the USDA's recommended guidelines of 2 to 3 cups of vegetables per day.
The grains food group contains two subgroups: whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains are considered higher in fiber and protein. Foods such as brown rice, oats and whole wheat pasta are in the whole grains subgroup. Crackers, corn flakes and grits are in the refined grains group. The USDA recommends that half of the grains consumed should come from whole grains. The recommended serving of grains is 5 to 8 ounces per day.
The protein group includes poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and beans. The recommended daily intake of proteins is 5 1/2 ounces to 6 1/2 ounces.
The dairy group is comprised of dairy products which are high in calcium including yogurt, cheese and milk. At least 3 cups of low-fat or fat-free dairy products should be consumed daily.