These five food groups are the building blocks for healthy eating. Including these foods in every meal of the day is a great way to improve your health today and in the future.

FRUITS AND VEGETABLES

 

The first two food groups are loaded with nutrients. They contain fiber, vitamins and minerals  — which your body needs in order to work properly. Fruits and vegetables are also low in fat, sugar and sodium (salt), and they have no cholesterol. These can cause your body harm when consumed in large amounts.

Whether they’re fresh, frozen or canned, all fruits and vegetables are delicious and healthy. When choosing canned fruits and veggies, check the ingredient label. Be sure to select items that are low in sugar, sodium and fat.

WHOLE GRAINS

 

Your health has a lot to gain from grains — especially whole grains. Unlike other grains, whole grains contain the entire grain kernel, which is packed with fiber, iron and many B vitamins. These nutrients help keep your heart healthy by lowering the amount of cholesterol in your blood. Too much cholesterol can clog your blood vessels, which puts more pressure on your heart. Plus, whole grains make you feel fuller with fewer calories. They are also packed with folate (or folic acid), a B vitamin fundamental to a healthy pregnancy.

Whole grains include foods like:

  • Brown rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Whole-wheat bread
  • Whole-wheat pasta
  • Whole-wheat tortillas
  • Whole-wheat flour

PROTEIN

Proteins build, maintain and replace the tissues in your body — things like your muscles, organs and immune system. They also play a key role in your metabolism — which means how your body converts what you eat and drink into energy.

When selecting proteins, choose ones low in saturated fat and cholesterol. And try to eat at least eight ounces of seafood per week, too.
Proteins include:

  • Beans
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Eggs
  • Lean meat and poultry
  • Unsalted nuts and seeds
  • Seafood (fresh, frozen or canned)
  • Tofu

 

LOW FAT DAIRY

 

Dairy plays a big role in the health of adults and children. For kids, consuming dairy daily builds bone mass as they grow and develop. For adults, dairy helps maintain healthy bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis (weak and fragile bones). When selecting dairy products, choose ones low in saturated fat. Low fat dairy is still filled with calcium and nutrients, but with fewer calories.

QUICK TIP

SHOP AROUND THE EDGES. An easy way to include more of these food groups into your day? Shop around the outside edges of the grocery store. That’s typically where healthier items are found.