From a young age we’re told to eat our vegetables but what about the other important foods that we need to eat. There are five food groups to look out for: vegetables, fruits, grains, proteins, and dairy. It is important to keep these groups balanced. Recommendations for one’s daily nutrients intake varies based off age, sex, and physical activity.
The food group that people tend to know the most about is dairy. This is due to many people eating products like milk, yogurt, and cheese. However, this does not include foods made from milk such as cream cheese, sour cream, and butter. Dairy provides many different nutrients like
- Vitamin A, D, B12
Protein foods also contain important vitamins and even iron. These nutrients are important for us to get into our bodies as we do not make our own protein. This means we must outsource with our food intake. There are five steps to obtaining the perfect amount of protein:
- Build – Protein helps the building of things like one’s hair and creating energy.
- Repair – Protein helps to fight infection and heals other parts of the body that are needed.
- Oxygenate – Protein in red blood cells carries oxygen to the body.
- Digest – Protein contains enzymes that help with digesting food.
- Regulate – Protein regulates hormones.
Next up is grains which are any food made from wheat, rice, oats, and other foods of that nature. There are two subgroups within the grain group, whole grains, and refined grains. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel, on the other hand, refined grains have been milled. Milled grains are a process that removes the bran and germ of the grain to give it a finer texture and improve shelf life. Grains are important for obtaining fiber, reducing cholesterol, and helping other bodily functions.
Fruits and vegetables have more of a variety of ways to be eaten as they can be eaten fresh, frozen, canned, and even dried or dehydrated. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that one’s fruit or vegetable intake be that of real food not just in juice form. Both fruit and vegetables help the body get nutrients like dietary fiber, folate, and potassium.
The benefits of having a good plate that includes five different food groups creates an overall healthy body. If unsure where to start there is MyPlate where you can put in your age, sex and physical activity which helps the program create a plan for you to follow. Once you start you are good to go.
Trying to get all your five groups of nutrients may seem difficult if one is a vegan however there are plenty of options.
Fruits, vegetables, and grains do not have any restrictions when it comes to veganism. However, there are protein foods and dairy. Below are a couple examples of what is able to be eaten in the terms of protein and dairy.
Protein foods: Tofu, tempeh, chickpeas, cauliflower
Dairy: Milk alternatives include soy, almond, hemp, and rice
Cream cheese and sour cream alternatives include ones made by beans or cashews
Butter alternatives include ones made from vegetable oil, cashews, or pea protein
Written by Kaitlyne Piper