A healthy and balanced eating pattern consists of a selection of nutrient-dense foods throughout and within every the food groups: vegetables, fruits, grains, protein foods, dairy products products, and also oils. It also allows for a act now and then—what the dietary Guidelines phone call "calories for other uses." every of the food groups is explained below, with identical examples. The Guidelines present three USDA Food Patterns v recommended amounts for exactly how much you must consume from each food team per day. Specific recommendations vary depending on your age, sex, and also level of physics activity.

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Cup- and also Ounce-Equivalents

Foods come in numerous forms. Some foods items are denser than others, and some have much more air or contain much more water. That’s why a cup or ounce of one food is no the very same as a cup or oz of an additional food. Cup-equivalents and also ounce- equivalents tell girlfriend the amount of various foods from every food group that have comparable nutritional content. For example, in the vegetables food group, 1 cup of life spinach and ½ cup that cooked environment-friendly beans both count as 1 cup-equivalent.


Vegetables come in a wide range of colors, flavors, and also textures. They’re also critical source of vitamins, minerals, and also fiber. Dark green vegetables include broccoli, collard greens, spinach, and kale. Part red and also orange vegetables room acorn squash, carrots, pumpkin, tomato, and sweet potato.

Examples that starchy vegetables are foods like corn, environment-friendly peas, and also white potatoes. Other vegetables encompass eggplant, beets, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, celery, artichokes, green beans, and onions. Beans and also peas (legumes) include black beans, garbanzo bean (chickpeas), kidney beans, soybeans, and also tofu. Legumes can likewise be counting in the protein foodstuffs 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 large (3-inch diameter, 3-3/4 customs long) red pepper
1/2 cup cooked green beans

See an ext vegetable equivalents.


Older Americans generally do not eat sufficient fruit. Yet, there room so countless choices—citrus fruits favor oranges and also grapefruits; different kinds the berries; fruits that flourish on tree such together apricots, cherries, peaches, and also mangoes; and others prefer figs, raisins, and also pineapples.

Many fruits carry out extra fiber that helps store your digestive system moving. Simply make certain you wash all fruit thoroughly before eating. Whole fruits are best, yet 100% fruit juice likewise counts as fruit. As soon as purchasing frozen, canned, or dried fruit, choose options that space lowest in included sugars.

1/2 cup-equivalent that fruit equals:

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

See more fruit equivalents.


Any food make from wheat, rye, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or one more cereal grain is a serial product. In enhancement to bread and pasta, breakfast cereal, grits, tortillas, and even popcorn count.

Look for grain selections that space low in saturated and included sugar and also that have actually no infectious diseases world fashion fat. However be careful—low-fat baked items can be high in included sugar.

At least fifty percent of every grains consumed should be whole grains, i m sorry contain the whole grain kernel. Totality grains provide iron and many B vitamins, and also they have actually fiber, too. Instances of totality grains include whole wheat, entirety oats, entirety bulgur (also well-known as cracked wheat), and also whole cornmeal. For much more on fiber, see vital Nutrients come Know.

Some grain commodities are refined, which provides them a finer texture and a much longer shelf life however removes fiber and nutrients. Most refined grains room enriched, which means that part nutrients are included back after processing. Examples of refined grain products include white flour, degermed cornmeal, white bread, and white rice.

1 ounce-equivalent of serial equals:

1 part 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 cup popcorn
1 tiny (6-inch diameter) corn or flour tortilla

See much more grain equivalents.

Here’s a tip

Do you wonder how many vegetables and also fruits you should eat in ~ a meal? look at at her plate. Vegetables and also fruits must fill up fifty percent the dish.

Protein Foods

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

The dietary Guidelines recommends the you eat 8 ounces per week the a variety of seafood, not only for the protein but likewise because seafood includes omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA, which are great for your heart. Seafoods that are higher in EPA and DHA incorporate salmon, shad, and also trout. These seafoods are likewise lower in mercury, which deserve to be harmful, than other varieties 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 separation pea, lentil, or various other bean soup
1/4 cup tofu
1 egg
2 tablespoons hummus

See an ext protein equivalents.

TIP: vegetables OR PROTEIN

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


Most adults perform not get sufficient dairy in your diet. For your heart health, choose from the many low-fat or fat-free selections in the dairy products group. Choosing fat-free or low-fat milk and yogurt, and also lower-fat cheese, provides you necessary vitamins and minerals, with much less fat.

1 cup-equivalent of dairy products equals:

1 cup yogurt
1-1/2 ounces tough cheese, such as cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss, or Parmesan
1/3 cup shredded cheese
1 cup milk or calcium-fortified soybean beans beverage
2 cups cottage cheese
1 cup pudding made v milk

See more dairy equivalents.


Oils space high in calories, however they space also critical source the nutrients favor vitamin E. For adults age 51 and older, the daily allowance for ladies is 5 teaspoons the oil and, for men, 6 teaspoons.

If possible, usage oils instead of hard fats, like butter, once cooking. Measure up your everyday oils have the right to be tricky—knowing what you include while food preparation or baking is one thing. But, oil is naturally component of some foods.

Teaspoons of oil:

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

See more oil equivalents.

Calories for other Uses

The “calories for other uses” group in the USDA Food Patterns provides you some leeway for eating much more than the encourage amount the nutrient-dense foods. The also permits for some calories native foods and also beverages that room not nutrient-dense, such as sweetened cereals, sodas, and alcoholic drinks.

Read the ingredient list to watch if the food you space eating has added sugar. Some key words to look for are: brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, and also high-fructose corn syrup. You can also look because that “added sugars” ~ above the Nutrition truth label.

“Calories for various other uses” also applies to the saturated fats in her diet. These fats occur naturally in part foods, but they are also added to foodstuffs such as baked goods and potato chips. That’s why you should try to limit your intake of saturation fats.

Also, store trans fat intake together low together possible. Trans fats are harmful and also are being gotten rid of from the food supply.

Drinking coffee or tea barely provides any calories unless you include sugar or cream, i m sorry count as “calories for various other uses.” middle coffee consumption of 3 to five 8-ounce cups per day can be component of a healthy and balanced eating pattern.

As because that alcohol, it is no nutrient-dense and also is not part of the healthy and balanced eating fads recommended in the dietary Guidelines. It also has calories the count towards “calories for various other uses.” If girlfriend consume alcohol, perform so in moderation—up come one drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day because that men.

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

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For more Information on healthy Eating

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

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

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

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

This contents is detailed by the lifwynnfoundation.org nationwide Institute top top Aging (lifwynnfoundation.org). Lifwynnfoundation.org scientists and also other experts review this contents to ensure that is accurate and up come date.