A healthy eating pattern consists of a variety of nutrient-dense foods across and within every the food groups: vegetables, fruits, grains, protein foods, dairy product products, and oils. That also allows for a treat now and also then—what the diet Guidelines calls "calories for various other uses." every of the food groups is described below, with indistinguishable examples. The Guidelines present three USDA Food Patterns through recommended quantities for just how much you need to consume from each food group per day. Specific recommendations vary depending upon your age, sex, and also level of physical activity.

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Cup- and Ounce-Equivalents

Foods come in many forms. Some foodstuffs are denser 보다 others, and also some have an ext air or contain much more water. It is why a cup or ounce of one food is no the same as a cup or oz of an additional food. Cup-equivalents and also ounce- equivalents tell you the lot of different foods from every food team that have comparable nutritional content. Because that example, in the vegetable food group, 1 cup of life spinach and also ½ cup that cooked eco-friendly beans both count together 1 cup-equivalent.


Vegetables come in a wide variety of colors, flavors, and textures. Castle also an essential source that vitamins, minerals, and also fiber. Dark eco-friendly vegetables incorporate broccoli, collard greens, spinach, and kale. Part red and orange vegetables are acorn squash, carrots, pumpkin, tomato, and sweet potato.

Examples that starchy vegetables are foods items like corn, environment-friendly peas, and also white potatoes. Various other vegetables incorporate eggplant, beets, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, celery, artichokes, environment-friendly beans, and also onions. Beans and also peas (legumes) include black beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), kidney beans, soybeans, and also tofu. Legumes can likewise be count in the protein foods group.

1/2 cup-equivalent of vegetables equals:

1 cup uncooked spinach
6 infant carrots
1/2 cup cook kidney beans
1/2 cup broccoli florets
1/2 big (3-inch diameter, 3-3/4 inch long) red pepper
1/2 cup cooked green beans

See much more vegetable equivalents.


Older Americans generally do not eat enough fruit. Yet, there space so numerous choices—citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits; different kinds of berries; fruit that prosper on tree such together apricots, cherries, peaches, and also mangoes; and also others choose figs, raisins, and also pineapples.

Many fruits carry out extra fiber that helps store your digestive mechanism moving. Just make certain you wash all fruits thoroughly before eating. Whole fruits are best, yet 100% fruit juice additionally counts together fruit. When purchasing frozen, canned, or dried fruit, choose alternatives that room lowest in included sugars.

1/2 cup-equivalent of fruit equals:

1 little piece fruit, such as a 2-inch peach or huge plum
1/4 cup dried fruit
1/8 tool cantaloupe
1/2 cup 100% orange juice
1/2 tool grapefruit
1/2 cup grapes

See an ext fruit equivalents.


Any food made from wheat, rye, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or an additional cereal grain is a serial product. In addition to bread and also pasta, breakfast cereal, grits, tortillas, and even popcorn count.

Look because that grain choices that space low in saturated and included sugar and also that have actually no infectious diseases worldwide fat. But be careful—low-fat baked goods can be high in added sugar.

At least fifty percent of every grains eaten should be totality grains, i m sorry contain the entire grain kernel. Whole grains administer iron and also many B vitamins, and they have actually fiber, too. Instances of whole grains include whole wheat, whole oats, entirety bulgur (also known as cracked wheat), and whole cornmeal. For an ext on fiber, see necessary Nutrients come Know.

Some grain assets are refined, which gives them a finer texture and a longer shelf life but removes fiber and also nutrients. Many refined grains space enriched, which method that part nutrients are included back after ~ processing. Instances of polished grain products include white flour, degermed cornmeal, white bread, and also white rice.

1 ounce-equivalent of grain equals:

1 slice bread
1 little (2-1/2-inch diameter) muffin
1 cup breakfast grain (flakes, rounds, or puffed)
1/2 cup cooking cereal, rice, or pasta
3 cups popcorn
1 tiny (6-inch diameter) corn or flour tortilla

See an ext grain equivalents.

Here’s a tip

Do you wonder how many vegetables and also fruits you must eat at a meal? watch at her plate. Vegetables and fruits should fill up half the dish.

Protein Foods

Try to incorporate a range of nutrient-dense proteins in the foodstuffs you eat. Choose lean (low-fat) meats and also poultry. Save in mind that you can likewise get protein indigenous seafood, eggs, beans, and peas, as well as nuts, seeds, and also soy products.

The dietary Guidelines recommends that you eat 8 ounces per week the a variety of seafood, not only for the protein but likewise because seafood consists of omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA, which are an excellent for your heart. Seafoods the are greater in EPA and DHA incorporate salmon, shad, and trout. These seafoods are additionally lower in mercury, which can be harmful, than other types of seafood.

1 ounce-equivalent equals:

1/2 ounce nuts (12 almonds, 24 pistachios, or 7 walnut halves)
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1/2 cup split pea, lentil, or other bean soup
1/4 cup tofu
1 egg
2 tablespoons hummus

See much more protein equivalents.

TIP: vegetables OR PROTEIN

Are friend confused around whether to counting beans and also peas together vegetables or protein foods? try this—count castle in the vegetables group if you regularly eat meat, poultry, and fish. Counting them in the protein foods group if you are a vegetarian or vegan or if you hardly ever eat meat, poultry, or fish.


Most adults execute not get enough dairy in your diet. For your heart health, pick from the countless low-fat or fat-free choices in the dairy product group. Selecting fat-free or low-fat milk and yogurt, as well as lower-fat cheese, offers you essential vitamins and also minerals, with much less fat.

1 cup-equivalent of dairy equals:

1 cup yogurt
1-1/2 ounces tough cheese, such together cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss, or Parmesan
1/3 cup shredded cheese
1 cup milk or calcium-fortified soy beverage
2 cups cottage cheese
1 cup pudding made through milk

See more dairy equivalents.


Oils space high in calories, yet they room also an important source the nutrients like vitamin E. For adults age 51 and also older, the everyday allowance for women is 5 teaspoons of oil and, for men, 6 teaspoons.

If possible, use oils instead of hard fats, favor butter, once cooking. Measure up your daily oils have the right to be tricky—knowing what you add while cooking or baking is one thing. But, oil is naturally component of part foods.

Teaspoons of oil:

1/2 medium avocado has actually 3 teaspoons the oil
4 huge ripe olives have 1/2 teaspoon of oil
1 tablespoon the peanut butter has 2 teaspoons that oil

See an ext oil equivalents.

Calories for other Uses

The “calories for other uses” classification in the USDA Food Patterns provides you some leeway because that eating more than the encourage amount that nutrient-dense foods. It also enables for some calories from foods and beverages that room not nutrient-dense, such together sweetened cereals, sodas, and also alcoholic drinks.

Read the ingredient perform to check out if the food you are eating has added sugar. Some vital words to look for are: brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, and also high-fructose corn syrup. Girlfriend can also look because that “added sugars” on the Nutrition facts label.

“Calories for other uses” additionally applies to the saturated fat in your diet. This fats occur naturally in part foods, however they are also added to foodstuffs such together baked goods and also potato chips. It is why girlfriend should try to limit her intake of saturation fats.

Also, keep trans fat intake as low as possible. Trans fats space harmful and also are being removed from the food supply.

Drinking coffee or tea proper provides any kind of calories uneven you add sugar or cream, i m sorry count as “calories for various other uses.” center coffee consumption of 3 to five 8-ounce cup per day deserve to be component of a healthy and balanced eating pattern.

As because that alcohol, that is not nutrient-dense and also is not part of the healthy eating patterns recommended in the diet Guidelines. It also has calories that count toward “calories for other uses.” If girlfriend consume alcohol, carry out so in moderation—up to one drink every day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.

The necessary thing to remember is the “calories for other uses” includes all added sugars, saturated and also trans fats, and alcohol the you consume. Pay attention to your consumption of these food components because the calories add up quickly.

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For much more Information on healthy and balanced Eating

USDA center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion703-305-7600www.fns.usda.gov/cnpp

USDA Food and also Nutrition Information center National agricultural Library301-504-5755fnic

National academy of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney illness (NIDDK)800-860-8747 (toll-free)866-569-1162 (TTY/toll-free)healthinfo

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute301-592-8573nhlbiinfo

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