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Healthy Living

The 5 Food Groups: Sample Choices

Every food group is important to providing essential nutrients and energy that can support normal growth and good health.

Choose foods that have a high content of nutrients (protein, vitamins, and minerals) compared with the amount of calories, fat, and sodium content.

Sample Food Choicesa


Food group Types of foods

Whole grains: brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur (cracked wheat), oatmeal, popcornb, whole grain barley, whole grain cornmeal, whole rye, whole wheat bread, whole wheat crackers, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat cereal flakes, whole wheat tortillas, wild rice

Other products: mostly made from refined grains; however, some may be made from whole grains (check the ingredients for “whole grain” or “whole wheat”): cornbread, corn tortillas, couscous, crackers, flour tortillas, pasta, pitas, pretzels, ready-to-eat cereals


Dark green vegetables: bok choy, broccoli, collard greens, kale, spinach

Red and orange vegetables: acorn squash, butternut squash, carrots, pumpkin, red peppers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, tomato juice

Starchy vegetables: corn, green peas, potatoes

Other vegetables: artichokes, asparagus, avocado, bean sprouts, beets, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, eggplant, green and red peppers, jicama, mushrooms, okra, onions, snow peas, string beans, tomatoes, vegetable juices, zucchini

Fruitb Apples, applesauce, apricots, bananas, berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries), figs, 100% fruit juices (unsweetened), grapefruit, grapes, kiwi fruit, mangoes, melons (cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon), nectarines, oranges, papayas, peaches, pears, plums, pineapple, raisins, prunes, starfruit, tangerines. Many of these can be offered as dried fruits as well.
Meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nutsb

Meats: lean cuts of beef, veal, pork, ham, and lamb; reduced-fat deli meats

Poultry: skinless chicken and turkey, ground chicken and turkey

Fish: salmon, trout, and herring are rich in omega-3 fatty acids; clams, crab, lobster, mussels, octopus, oysters, scallops, squid (calamari), canned tuna fish

Beans: cooked beans (black beans, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, lentils, pinto beans); refried beans (made without lard); tofu (bean curd made from soy beans)

Nuts and seeds: peanut butter; sunflower seeds, almonds, and hazelnuts are rich in vitamin E

Eggs: chicken eggs, duck eggs

Dairy Low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese (such as cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss, parmesan, string cheese, cottage cheese), pudding, frozen yogurt, and ice milk. Calcium-fortified soymilk (soy beverage) is also part of the Dairy Group.


aSource: United States Department of Agriculture Accessed June 8, 2011.

bNote: Do not feed children younger than 4 years round, firm food unless it is chopped completely. The following foods are choking hazards: nuts and seeds; chunks of meat or cheese; hot dogs; whole grapes; fruit chunks (such as apples); popcorn; raw vegetables; hard, gooey, or sticky candy; and chewing gum. Peanut butter can be a choking hazard for children younger than 2.

Last Updated
Healthy Children, Fit Children: Answers to Common Questions From Parents About Nutrition and Fitness (Copyright © 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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