A food group is a collection of foods that share similar nutritional properties or biological classifications. Nutrition guides typically divide foods into food groups and recommend daily servings of each group for a healthy diet.
5 different food groups:
- Dairy is a source of calcium. Calcium occurs mainly in the teeth and bones.
- Carbohydrates give the body energy
- Protein helps to repair muscle and bone.
- Fats store energy and insulate the body. Needed to absorb fat soluble vitamins.
- Vitamins and minerals boost the immune system. Dietary minerals are derived from the earth's crust. Inorganic elements that are essential to humans for normal body function. Plants extract the minerals from the soil, and humans consume the plants. Iron is an example of a mineral which is a constituent of hemoglobin found in blood.
The five different food groups are:
- Dairy: the foods in this group are excellent sources of calcium, which is important for strong, healthy bones. Not many other foods in our diet contain as much calcium as dairy foods.
- Fruit: fruit provides vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and many phytonutrients (nutrients naturally present in plants), that help your body stay healthy.
- Grain (cereal) foods: always choose wholegrain and/or high fiber varieties of bread, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, etc. Refined grain products (such as cakes or biscuits) can be high in added sugar, fat and sodium.
- Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds: our body uses the protein we eat to make specialised chemicals such as haemoglobin and adrenalin. Protein also builds, maintains, and repairs the tissues in our body. Muscles and organs (such as your heart) are made of protein.
- Vegetables, legumes and beans: vegetables should make up a large part of your daily food intake and should be encouraged at every meal (including snack times). They provide vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre and phytonutrients (nutrients naturally present in plants) to help your body stay healthy.
- fats: Fats - one source of energy and important in relation to fat soluble vitamins.
- fiber: Roughage (Fiber) - the fibrous indigestible portion of our diet essential to health of the digestive system.
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- Calcium occurs mainly in the teeth and bones, but a small amount is found in blood plasma and other body fluids, where it influences nerve transmission, blood clotting, and muscle contraction. Dairy products and green leafy vegetables are dietary sources of calcium, and an adequate intake of vitamin D is required for calcium absorption.
- Phosphorus, also found in dairy products, is closely allied to calcium in bone and tooth formation and its association with vitamin D. It is present in every cell in compounds such as nucleic acids and adenosine triphosphate.
- Magnesium, also present in every cell, is necessary for carbohydrate and protein metabolism, cell reproduction, and smooth muscle action. Dietary sources include nuts, soy beans, and cocoa.
- Sodium is in the skeleton and extracellular fluids and is necessary for fluid and acid-base balance, cell permeability, and muscle function. It occurs in table salt (sodium chloride, the main source) and such foods as milk and spinach.
- Potassium, which is found in intra- and extracellular fluid, plays a major role in fluid and electrolyte balance and in heart muscle activity and is also required for carbohydrate metabolism and protein synthesis. Its sources include legumes, whole grains, and bananas.
- Chlorine is found in extracellular fluid, where it helps maintain normal fluid-electrolyte and acid-base balance, and in the stomach, where it helps provide the acidic environment necessary for digestion. Table salt is its main dietary source.
- Sulfur, which is important to the structure of proteins, is also necessary for energy metabolism, enzyme function, and detoxification. Sulfur is obtained from protein foods, such as meat, eggs, and legumes.