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Five Building Blocks of a Healthy Lifestyle

There are five building blocks for a healthy diet fruits, grains, protein, dairy and vegetables. Age, gender, height, weight and physical activity will play a role in the amount of food your body requires to operate every day.

You want to choose a variety of foods and beverages from each food group to build healthy eating styles and to meet your calorie and nutrient needs when planning or preparing meals and snacks.

The United States Department of Agriculture explains the major food groups as the following:

Fruits

Focus on whole fruits. Whole fruits include fresh, frozen, dried, and canned options. Choose whole fruits more often than 100% fruit juice.

Vegetables

Vary your veggies. Vegetables are divided into five subgroups and include dark-green vegetables, red and orange vegetables, legumes (beans and peas), starchy vegetables, and other vegetables. Choose vegetables from all subgroups.

Grains

Make half your grains whole grains. Grains include whole grains and refined, enriched grains. Choose whole grains more often.

Protein Foods

Vary your protein routine. Protein foods include both animal (seafood, meat, poultry, and eggs) and plant sources (nuts, beans and peas*, seeds, and soy products). Choose a variety of lean protein foods from both plant and animal sources.

*Note: Beans and peas are also part of the Vegetable Group.

Dairy

Move to low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt. Dairy includes milk, yogurt, cheese, and calcium-fortified soy beverages (soymilk). Choose fat-free (skim) and low fat (1%) dairy foods.

Oils

Oils are part of healthy eating styles because they provide nutrients for the body, like fatty acids and vitamin E. They also enhance the flavor of your food. Some oils are eaten as a natural part of the food such as in nuts, olives, avocados, and seafood. Other oils are refined and added to a food during processing or preparation such as soybean, canola, and safflower oils. Choose the right amount of oil to stay within your daily calorie needs.

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