Today we will be discussing MyPlate. MyPlate is a visual image and website created by the United States Department of Agriculture that aims to help us remember to consume the main 5 food groups and how these should look on our own plates. For more information on what is MyPlate you can follow the link below1:
ChooseMyPlate.gov. What is MyPlate. April 2017. Internet: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate
MyPlate defines a balanced diet as one that includes a variety of different foods, has appropriate serving sizes, and meets daily nutrient needs. Being healthy is a lifelong process and thus the best way to adopt a healthy lifestyle is by making small changes1.
It is important to consume healthy foods from all the five food groups including fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy in order to adequately consume your daily nutrients needs. Eating a healthy diet can help to reduce the risk of being overweight or obese and diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancers1.
The 5 Food Groups
What foods are in the fruit group? Any fruit or 100% fruit juice3.
Why is it important to eat fruit? Diets rich in fruits can help reduce the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, certain types of cancers, obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, diverticulosis, and constipation3.
What nutrients can be found in fruits?
Fruits are sources of many vital nutrients such as potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and folate3:
- Potassium is important as it can help to maintain a healthy blood pressure.
- Dietary fiber is essential to help blood cholesterol levels remain low and may also play a role in lowering the risk of heart disease. Fiber also plays an important part in proper bowel function and thereby can reduce the risk of diverticulosis and constipation. Additionally, fiber can be beneficial for weight loss as it can help to make you feel fuller with fewer calories. It is important to note that only whole fruits and not juice contain dietary fiber.
- Vitamin C is needed for the growth and repair of all body tissues and can help heal cuts and wounds as well as keep teeth and gums healthy. Vitamin C also plays a role in the absorption of non-heme (plant-based) iron.
- Folate is pertinent in the formation of red blood cells. Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant should ensure that they are consuming adequate folate from food and an additional 400 mcg of synthetic folic acid from fortified foods (such as cereals) or supplements. Eating adequate folate reduces the risk of neural tube defects, spina bifida, and anencephaly during fetal development.
What foods are in the vegetable group? Any vegetable or 100% vegetable juice counts. Vegetables may be raw or cooked, fresh, frozen, canned, or dried4.
Why is it important to eat vegetables? Well… the answer to that is very similar to the reason we must eat fruits. Diets rich in vegetables can help reduce the risk of heart disease, strokes, heart attacks, certain types of cancers, obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, diverticulosis, and constipation4.
What nutrients can be found in vegetables?
Vegetables are rich sources of essential nutrients such as potassium, dietary fiber, folate, vitamin C, and vitamin A4:
- Potassium (see fruit nutrients for description on health benefits)
- Dietary fiber (see fruit nutrients for description on health benefits)
- Folate (see fruit nutrients for description on health benefits)
- Vitamin C (see fruit nutrients for description on health benefits)
- Vitamin A keeps eyes and skin healthy and helps to protect against infections.
What foods are in the grain group? Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain. Examples include bread, pasta, oatmeal, breakfast, cereals, tortillas, and grits6.
According to MyPlate grains are divided into 2 subgroups: whole and refined grains. Whole grains contain the whole grain kernel (the bran, germ, and endosperm) and refined grains have had the bran and germ removed. Removing these components of the kernel extends the shelf life of the product; however, it also removes the dietary fiber, iron, and B vitamins. In the US, most refined grains have the B vitamins added back, however, fiber is not added back. For that reason, MyPlate recommends that at least half of your grains be whole6.
Why is it important to eat grains? Whole grains can help reduce the risk of heart disease and constipation. Furthermore, whole grains promote weight management, a healthy immune system, and healthy fetal development6.
What nutrients can be found in grains?
Grains are important sources of dietary fiber, several B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate) and minerals (iron, magnesium, and selenium)6:
- Dietary fiber (see fruit nutrients)
- B vitamins are necessary for the metabolism of proteins, fat, and carbohydrates. Additionally, B vitamins are vital in maintaining a healthy nervous system, the formation of red blood cells, and tissue building.
- Iron is utilized in the body to help carry oxygen in the blood.
- Magnesium is an important mineral for building bones and releasing energy from the muscles.
- Selenium is an antioxidant, meaning it protects the cells from being oxidized. Selenium is also is important for the maintenance of a healthy immune system.
What foods are protein foods? According to MyPlate protein foods are all food made from meat, poultry, seafood, beans, and peas, eggs, processed soy products, nuts, and seeds8.
Why is it important to eat protein foods? Because protein foods are so varied the nutrients they provide are varied and thereby the health benefits that they provide are also varied. Read the nutrients section below to learn more about the health benefits that protein foods provide8.
What nutrients can be found in protein foods?
These can include omega 3, protein, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and zinc8:
- Seafood is a rich source of healthy fats such as omega 3. Eating at least 8 ounces a week (2 portions) of a variety of seafood contributes to the prevention of heart disease. Good seafood choices include salmon, anchovies, herring, sardines, Pacific oysters, trout, and Atlantic and Pacific mackerel.
- Nuts may also help reduce the risk of heart disease. However, because nuts are high in calories make sure and eat these in small portions. You can use them to replace other protein foods instead of adding them to what you already eat.
- Proteins are important for our bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, blood, enzymes, hormones, and vitamins.
- B vitamins (see grain nutrients for description on health benefits)
- Iron (see grain nutrients for description on health benefits)
- Magnesium (see grain nutrients for description on health benefits)
- Zinc is necessary for biochemical reactions and helps the immune system function properly.
- There are certain foods in the protein group that contains high amounts of saturated fat and can thereby increase the bad cholesterol levels in your blood. High levels of LDL cholesterol increase the risk for coronary heart disease. Some food choices in the protein group that are high in saturated fats include fatty cuts of beef, pork, lamb, regular ground beef (85 or 75%), regular sausage, hot dogs, bacon, some luncheon meats such as bologna and salami, and some poultry such as duck. Therefore, to keep a healthy blood cholesterol levels it is important to eat these foods in moderation.
What foods make up the dairy group? All fluid milk products10.
Most dairy food group choices should be fat-free or low fat. Foods made from milk that have little or no calcium are not part of this group (such as cream cheese, cream, and butter). Calcium-fortified soy milk is part of this group10.
Why is it important to eat dairy foods? The intake of dairy products is linked to healthy bones and may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Intake of dairy is also associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and lower blood pressure in adults10.
What nutrients are in dairy: Calcium, potassium, and vitamin D10:
- Calcium is necessary for building bones and teeth and in maintaining bone mass.
- Potassium (see fruit nutrients for description on health benefits)
- Vitamin D plays a vital role in the body to maintain proper levels of calcium and phosphorus thereby helping to build and maintain bones. Milk and soy milk fortified with vitamin D are good sources.
Conclusion of the 5 food groups
The main take-home message from MyPlate is that each of the 5 food groups uniquely provides vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that combat disease and aid with vital bodily functions. Next week, we will start focusing on the fruit and vegetable (FV) groups and we will learn more on how many FV we need.
Happy eating! 🍅
- Choose My Plate. What is MyPlate? April 2017. Internet: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate (accessed 23 June 2017)
- Lime-citrus-fruit. Internet: https://pixabay.com/en/lime-citrus-fruit-sour-green-2133091/ (accessed 14 July 2017).
- Choose MyPlate. Why is it important to eat fruit? June 2015. Internet: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/fruits-nutrients-health (accessed 5 July 2017)
- Vegetables. Internet: https://pixabay.com/en/vegetables-healthy-nutrition-kitchen-1584999/ (accessed 14 July 2017).
- Choose MyPlate. Why is it important to eat vegetables? January 2016. Internet: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/vegetables-nutrients-health (accessed 5 July 2017)
- Choose MyPlate. Why is it important to eat grains, especially whole grains? June 2015. Internet: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/grains-nutrients-health (accessed 5 July 2017).
- Bread-Farmers. Internet: https://pixabay.com/en/bread-farmer-s-bread-crispy-baked-1281053/ (accessed 14 July 2017).
- Choose MyPlate. Why is it important to make lean or low-fat choices from the Protein Foods Group? January 2016. Internet: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/grains-nutrients-health (accessed 5 July 2016).
- Mixed-Nuts. Internet: https://pixabay.com/en/mixed-nuts-selection-brown-shell-1938302/ (accessed 14 July 2017).
- Choose MyPlate. What foods are included in the Dairy Group? July 2016. Internet: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/dairy (accessed 5 July 2016).
- Grupes Produkcija. Internet: http://www.milk.lt/ (accessed 14 July 2017).
- Header: Pixababy. Food-Leaves. Internet: https://pixabay.com/en/food-leaves-plate-salad-table-1853909/ (accessed 14 July 2017).