We recommend following the guidelines that USDA’s MyPlate sets forth. MyPlate illustrates the five food groups that are the building blocks for a healthy diet. Before you eat, think about what goes on your plate or in your cup or bowl. For additional healthy eating tips, visit our families page.
Please note that the amount of fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, grains and oils you need depends on your age, gender and level of physical activity.
To learn more about building a healthy plate, select a food group below.
- Fruits and Vegetables: Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
Any fruit or 100% fruit juice counts as part of the Fruit Group. Fruits may be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried, and may be whole, cut-up or pureed. It is recommended that you get 1-2 cups of fruit a day. Click here for specific daily recommendations based off of your age and sex.
In general, 1 cup of fruit or 100% fruit juice, or 1/2 cup of dried fruit can be considered 1 cup from the fruit group.
Any vegetable or 100% vegetable juice counts as a member of the Vegetable Group. Vegetables may be raw or cooked; fresh, frozen, canned, or dried/dehydrated; and may be whole, cut-up, or mashed. It is recommended that you get 1-3 cups of vegetables a day. Click here for specific daily recommendations based off of your age and sex.
In general, 1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables or vegetable juice, or 2 cups of raw leafy greens can be considered 1 cup from the vegetable group.
Click here for the vegetables food gallery.
- Grains: At least half of your grains should be whole grains.
Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain is a grain product. Bread, pasta, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, tortillas, and grits are examples of grain products.
It is recommended that you get 3-8 oz. of grains per day. Click here for specific daily recommendations based off of your age and sex.
In general, 1 slice of bread; 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal; or 1/2 cup of cooked rice, pasta or cereal = 1 oz. of grains.
- Protein: Go lean with protein.
All foods made from meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, processed soy products, nuts, and seeds are considered part of the Protein Foods Group. Beans and peas are also part of the Vegetable Group.
It is recommended that you get 6 cooked ounces of protein a day. Select a variety of protein foods to improve nutrient intake and health benefits, including at least 8 ounces of cooked seafood per week. Click Here for specific daily recommendations based off of your age and sex.
In general, 1/4 cup of cooked beans; 1/4 cup of tofu or 1 egg = 1 oz. of lean meat.
- Dairy: Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
All fluid milk products and many foods made from milk are considered part of this food group. Most Dairy Group choices should be fat-free or low-fat. Foods made from milk that retain their calcium content are part of the group. Foods made from milk that have little to no calcium, such as cream cheese, cream, and butter, are not.
It is recommended that you get 2-3 cups of milk per day.
In general, 1 cup of milk or yogurt; 1/4 cup shredded cheese; 2 oz. of processed cheese; or 2 cups of cottage cheese = 1 cup of dairy.
Oils are fats that are liquid at room temperature, like the vegetable oils used in cooking. Oils come from many different plants and from fish. Oils are NOT a food group, but they provide essential nutrients. Therefore, oils are included in USDA food patterns.
It is recommended that you get 3-7 teaspoons of oil per day. Click here for specific daily recommendations based off of your age and sex.
Keep in mind that some Americans consume enough oil in the foods they eat, such as nuts, fish, cooking oil and salad dressings. Others could easily consume the recommended allowance by substituting oils for some of the solid fats they eat (Solid fats include: shortening, stick margarine, butter, cream, or beef, pork and chicken fat).