The USDA sets guidelines for what people should eat and how to make healthy decisions about food. As we learn more about how certain foods fuel our bodies – as well as how food groups can affect people differently – the USDA now recommends an approach called “MyPlate.” This approach outlines five main goals that you can work into you and your family’s life.
Whole fruits are best, but any fruit or 100% fruit juice counts. You can enjoy them fresh, frozen, canned or dried.
Vegetables provide nutrients that are essential to good health. Enjoying a healthy diet that includes vegetables helps your body function best, with nutrients like fiber and potassium. Veggies can be eaten raw or cooked. Eating a variety of vegetables ensures you’re getting the maximum benefit.
Including whole grains in your diet helps reduce the risk of heart disease, as well as aid in digestion. While refined grains can be part of a healthy diet, whole grains contain the entire grain kernel, which maintains the nutrients found in the plant. Examples of grains are wheat, rice, cereals and popcorn
Protein foods can include animal products like meat, seafood and eggs, as well as legumes and seeds. Legumes include foods like beans, peas and lentils. Eating an adequate amount of protein foods helps your body grow strong while also providing nutrients like B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, zinc and magnesium.
Healthy sources of dairy include milk, cheese and yogurt. Eating dairy products helps build and maintain strong bones. Dairy is a great source of calcium, potassium, vitamin D and protein. If you are unable to easily consume dairy, there are many dairy-based alternatives that you can try, such as A2 milk, hard cheeses and Lactaid, which helps the body break down lactose. You could also consider integrating calcium-rich foods like fortified juice, canned fish and some leafy greens.
A healthy balance of each of these components contributes to a healthy and sustainable diet.