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Five food groups

SA Health July19 Stills Print 122

What are the five food groups?

The five food groups make up the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.

Foods are grouped together in this way because they provide similar amounts of key nutrients. For example, the key nutrients of milk, yoghurt, cheese and alternatives food group include calcium and protein. To make sure we are getting all the nutrients we need for good health, we need to eat a variety of foods from each of the five food groups daily:

Fruit

Fruit is high in fibre, vitamins and minerals. Fruit of different colours means it provides different nutrients, so eating a variety of different coloured fruit increases the variety of nutrients we take in.

Try to choose fruits that are in season as this will cost you less and be of better quality. Fruit does not always have to be fresh – frozen and canned fruit are also good options. Frozen and canned fruit can be cheaper and last longer – look for tinned fruit in natural juice or water rather than in syrup. Drinking large serves of fruit juice can be high in energy (kilojoules) and low in fibre so try to choose whole fruit, keep juice serves small (1/2 cup or 125ml) and only have sometimes, not every day.

Examples of fruit to choose from:

  • citrus fruit such as oranges and mandarins
  • apples and pears
  • stone fruits such as plums, apricots, peaches and nectarines
  • berries
  • tropical fruits such as bananas, pineapple, mangoes and melons.

Serving sizes and recommended amounts each day

To find out how much a serve is, how many serves you need each day, and tips for eating more fruit visit:

Vegetables, legumes and beans

Did you know vegetables, legumes and beans are superheroes of the food world? Research shows that eating vegetables reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Most Australians eat less than half the recommended amount of vegetables per day. Vegetables, legumes and beans are a rich source of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Just like fruit, different coloured vegetables provide different nutrients, so try to eat a range of different coloured vegetables every day. Vegetables, legumes and beans can be fresh, frozen or tinned. If you choose tinned, try to choose reduced or no added salt products.

Examples of vegetables include:

  • green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, kale, broccoli
  • tomatoes, carrots, capsicum, snow peas, eggplant, mushrooms
  • potato, sweet potato, pumpkin, beetroot.

Examples of legumes/beans include:

  • chickpeas, red kidney beans, cannellini beans, lima beans and lentils.

Serving sizes and recommended amounts each day

To find out how much a serve is, how many serves you need each day, and tips for eating more vegetables visit:

Grains

Grain foods are mainly made from wheat, rye, oats, rice, barley, quinoa, millet and corn.

Wholegrain varieties are less processed and have more fibre and vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than more refined (processed) grains.

Examples of grain foods include:

  • breakfast cereals such as porridge, muesli, whole wheat biscuits, high fibre whole grain cereals
  • breads – wholegrain, wholemeal, white, rye, crispbreads, focaccia
  • grains – rice (brown and white), quinoa, semolina, buckwheat, millet, spelt
  • pasta, noodles, popcorn, English muffins, rice cakes, crumpets, flour.

Serving sizes and recommended amounts each day

To find out how much a serve is and how many serves of grain (cereal) foods you need each day visit:

Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans

This food group is high in protein as well as key nutrients such as iodine, iron, zinc, vitamins, especially B12, and essential fatty acids.

Did you notice legumes and beans are in this group and the vegetable group? This is because they provide many of the same nutrients as lean meats, poultry, fish and eggs and are a good alternative for vegetarian and vegan eating patterns.

Lean red meat is a rich source of iron, which is easily absorbed by the body. Nuts, seeds, legumes and beans have some iron in them but it is harder for the body to absorb it. The good news is the vitamin C found in many fruit and vegetables helps the body absorb iron from non-animal foods.

Examples of lean meats and alternatives include:

  • lean meat such as beef, veal, lamb, pork, kangaroo
  • poultry such as chicken, turkey, duck
  • fish and seafood such as fish, crabs, prawns, oysters
  • eggs
  • nuts and seeds such as almonds, peanuts, cashews, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, nut spreads
  • legumes/beans such as chickpeas, red kidney beans, lentils, tofu.

Serving sizes and recommended amounts each day

To find out what a serve is and how many serves of lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans you need each day visit:

Milk, yoghurt, cheese

The foods in the milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives food group are a great source of calcium and protein.

Low or reduced-fat milks, yoghurts, and cheeses are the best choices for most people aged over two years. Full-fat varieties are higher in energy (kilojoules) and saturated fat, which most of us do not need.

Reduced-fat milk is not suitable for children under the age of two because they have higher energy needs to help them grow. Breastmilk or infant formula should be the main milk source for infants under 12 months. They should not be given cow’s milk as the main drink until after 12 months.

Examples of milk, yoghurt, cheese and their alternatives include:

  • milk – reduced-fat and full-fat milk, long life, evaporated, powdered milk, soy drinks (at least 100mg calcium/100 mL added)
  • yoghurts – reduced and full-fat yoghurt, plain, flavoured, soy yoghurt (calcium added)
  • cheese – all hard cheese, reduced and full fat.

Serving sizes and recommended amounts each day

To find out what a serve is and how many serves of milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives you need each day visit: