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MyPyramid Food Groups
By choosing to complete this mail lesson, you have taken the first step in learning more about the importance of nutrition and its relationship to good health. MyPyramid shows us what and how much we need to eat. It also shows us we need to be physically active. To complete this lesson:
- Carefully read this lesson. It should take about 15-20 minutes to complete.
- Answer the questions at the end of the lesson.
MyPyramid shows the importance of making good food choices from each of the five food groups every day. It also shows the importance of being physically active most days of the week and making changes “one step at a time.”
The MyPyramid symbol shows six color bands that run from the bottom of the pyramid to the top. There is a color band for each of the five food groups. The sixth color band is for oils.
- Orange is for the Grain group
- Green is for the Vegetable group
- Red is for the Fruit group
- Yellow is for Oils
- Blue is for the Milk group
- Purple is for the Meat and Beans group
How Much Do You Need Every Day?
|Grain Group||6 ounces|
|Vegetable Group||2½ cups|
|Fruit Group||2 cups|
|Milk Group||3 cups|
|Meat and Beans Group||5½ ounces|
- Different people may need more or less calories each day. The exact amount that you need to eat depends on your age, gender (male or female), and how much physical activity you get every day.
Let’s take a closer look at each food group in MyPyramid!
The Grain Group: 6 ounces every day* The grain group contains foods made from wheat, rice, oats, corn, and barley. Foods found in the grain group include foods such as bread, pasta, oatmeal, cereal, and tortillas. Foods from the grain group provide our body with its main source of energy. Half (3 ounces) of the foods you choose from the grain group should be whole grains. Examples of whole grain foods are brown rice, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and whole-grain breakfast cereals. Grains are important sources of many nutrients including dietary fiber, carbohydrates, B vitamins, and iron. Whole grains, as part of an overall healthy diet, may reduce the risk of certain diseases.
What counts as 1 ounce of grains?
- 1 slice of bread
- ½ cup cooked cereal (oatmeal or grits)
- ½ cup cooked rice or pasta
- 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal (toasted O’s, whole wheat flakes, etc.)
- 1 (6-inch) tortilla
- 3 cups popped popcorn
The Vegetable Group: 2 ½ cups every day* The vegetable group includes all fresh, frozen and canned vegetables, and 100% vegetable juice. Most vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories. Vegetables provide important nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and dietary fiber. It is important to eat a variety of vegetables that vary in color because different vegetables provide different nutrients.
What counts as 1 cup of vegetables?
- 1 cup raw or cooked vegetables
- 2 cup raw leafy greens or lettuce
- 1 cup 100% vegetable juice
- 2 medium carrots or 12 baby carrots
- 1 cup cooked dry beans or peas
- 1 cup mashed potatoes
The Fruit Group: 2 cups every day* The fruit group includes fresh, frozen, canned and dried fruits, and 100% fruit juice. Most fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories. Fruits have important nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and dietary fiber. Fruit juice should be limited to less than half of total fruit intake because it does not have fiber.
What counts as 1 cup of fruit?
- 1 cup fresh, frozen, or canned fruit
- 1 cup 100% fruit juice
- ½ cup dried fruit (raisins, dried cranberries, prunes, etc.)
- 1 small apple (2½ inches in diameter)
- 1 large banana
- 32 large seedless grapes
- 1 large peach (2¾ inches in diameter)
The Milk Group: 3 cups every day* The milk group includes dairy foods like milk, cheese, and yogurt. Foods from the milk group are rich in calcium, protein, and vitamins to help build strong bones and teeth. Choose foods from the milk group that are fat-free or low-fat, such as 1% or skim milk, low-fat or fat-free cheese, and low-fat or fat-free yogurt.
What counts as 1 cup of milk?
- 1 cup milk
- ⅓ cup shredded cheese
- 1 cup yogurt (8 ounce container)
- 2 cups cottage cheese
- 1 ½ ounces hard cheese (Cheddar, Mozzarella, Swiss, Parmesan)
- 2 ounces processed cheese (American)
- 1 cup pudding made with milk
- 1 cup frozen yogurt
The Meat and Beans Group: 5 ½ ounces every day* The meat and beans group includes all foods made from meat, poultry, fish, dry beans or peas, eggs, nuts, and seeds. Foods from this group provide nutrients that are important for growing, building strong muscles and organs, and staying healthy. Choose meat and poultry that are lean or low-fat by choosing poultry without skin, extra lean ground beef and, cuts of beef and pork with “loin” or “round” in the name. Choose cooked dry beans or peas as a main dish or as part of a meal several times a week. Choose fish, nuts, and seeds a couple of times a week because they contain healthy oils that are good for us.
What counts as 1 ounce of meat or beans?
- 1 ounce cooked meat, poultry, or fish
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- ¼ cup (about 2 ounces) tofu
- 1 egg
- ½ ounce nuts or seeds
- ¼ cup cooked dry beans, or dry peas.
Common portions and how many ounces that equals:
- 1 small steak = 3 ½ to 4 ounces
- 1 small hamburger = 2 to 3 ounces
- 1 small chicken breast half = 3 ounces
- 1 small can of tuna, drained = 3 to 4 ounces
- 12 almonds, 24 pistachios, or 7 walnut halves = 1 ounce
Oils are an important part of a healthy diet because they provide essential fatty acids and vitamin E. Oils, fish, nuts, and seeds are sources of good fats. Limit fats that are solid at room temperature such as butter, shortening, and stick margarine.
*All amounts given above are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. The amount that you need to eat may vary depending on your age, gender, and how physically active you are.
Where do other foods fit into MyPyramid?
There are a number of foods that do not clearly fit into MyPyramid, like candy, soda/pop, and sweets. MyPyramid is a guide that includes all of the foods that you need to eat to be healthy. Candy, soda/pop, and sweets are foods that are not necessary to be healthy. However, these foods can be eaten/drank in moderation and still be a part of a healthy diet. The key is to only eat/drink these in moderation. Soda/pop or other sweetened drinks can add hundreds of extra calories to your diet, if not consumed in moderation. Choose water or milk to drink more often, and soda/pop less often to keep your calorie intake at healthy levels.