Proper classification of food allows us to devise healthy meal plans easily. With such classification, we know which nutrients are contained in which food group and how many products of each food group we need to eat each day to remain healthy. We have prepared the most important information about each class of food so that you can easily incorporate a healthy diet in your daily life.
We all need food to survive, but how much do we actually know about it? What do you know about its classification and its importance? Here is the essential information everyone should know.
Classification of food groups
Each day, we need to consume a certain amount of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients in order to be healthy and strong. To reach this goal, a person has to have a healthy and balanced diet. But how would people know how much of which food they need to eat to gain all necessary components for their bodies? To resolve this issue, a classification of food was devised.
Now, to eat healthily, you just need to make certain that you have all the food groups on your pate. Moreover, these types of food have to be present in your diet in certain amounts. In such way, you will definitely get the most value from your meals.
What are the six classes of food?
All edible objects and substances that we eat are divided into classes. This classification is based on the nutrient content of each edible object. Thus, we distinguish six classes of food. They are grains, vegetables, fruits, protein, dairy, and oils.
Grains provide people with carbohydrates and fiber. Moreover, they contain group B vitamins, Iron, Magnesium, Selenium, and other vital minerals. Nice examples of grain foods are popcorn, pasta, rice, cereal, oats, bread, muffins, and the like. As you can see, this group is quite common in our daily meals. Therefore, it is very easy to overeat grain food. Thus, you should never forget about balance in your meals. There should be around ¼ of your plate occupied by grains.
This group may be further divided into whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains are easily distinguished from the refined ones because the former are actually whole grain kernels, and the latter are peeled and milled. Quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, popcorn, whole-wheat pasta and whole-wheat bread, buckwheat, etc. are good examples of whole grains. Refined grains are represented by muffins, white bread, doughnuts, pasta, and so on.
You should always prefer whole grains to refined grains. Whole grains are richer in healthy components and contain more fiber. Moreover, your grain food should also be low in added sugar and trans fats. If you follow these recommendations, grains in your plate will help to reduce the risk of diabetes and heart diseases for you.
Vegetables constitute an immensely valuable food group. They are extremely rich in vitamins, fiber, antioxidants, and minerals. At the same time, vegetables are low in calories. This class of food is made up of all vegetables and 100% vegetable juices.
Your plate should consist of ½ of vegetables and fruit. You should vary the vegetables you consume making sure you eat vegetables of different colors throughout a week. Usually, vegetables of different colors contain different nutrients. Therefore, you need to eat various foods of this group to get the most value. In this case, vegetables will boost your immune system and protect you from various diseases, including diabetes, heart diseases, and even cancer.
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Like vegetables, fruits also provide people with valuable nutrients. They contain a lot of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The high content of antioxidants makes them a valuable tool in reducing the risk of cancer. 100% natural juice also counts as fruits, though, it has almost no fiber.
Half of your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables. Fruits are considered healthy; however, you should remember that some of them are rich in sugar (fructose). Therefore, you should be careful with fruit intake especially if you control your blood sugar levels or if you are on a diet. In such cases, it is safer to switch to vegetables or choose fruits with a low glycemic index.
You cannot say enough about the benefits of protein food to our bodies. Protein is essential for all systems and organs of a body, as they are considered to be the building blocks for our organisms. Muscles, blood, hormones and enzymes, hair and skin, - they all benefit from proteins. Foods rich in protein are meat, fish, seafood, beans, tofu, soybeans, and nuts.
It is recommended to fill around ¼ of your plate with protein food. This class of food will bring your organism considerable amounts of Iron, group B vitamins, Zinc, and Magnesium. Fish and seafood are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Many kinds of protein food contain a lot of fat and harmful cholesterol along with beneficial nutrients. Therefore, you should choose to eat lean meat, fish, and nuts to avoid any unhealthy consequences. Also, all kinds of processed meat (sausages and the like) are also considered harmful. There is a growing body of evidence that processed meat is able to cause cancer. It is important to remember that large sea fish like tuna may contain high levels of Mercury that is harmful to our organisms. Thus, you should choose small fish or farm-grown fish.
Dairy products are also vital for our organisms. They are rich in protein, Calcium, and Potassium. Dairy foods are the main source of vitamin D for us. Examples of dairy products are milk and all milk products like yogurt, cheese, puddings, butter, and so on.
You should consume around 3 cups of dairy product a day. It is especially important for children because their bones are actively developing, and they need Calcium and vitamin D for proper formation. However, you should remember that dairy foods are usually high in fats. Thus, eating a lot of them may result in unwanted effects like excessive weight and high levels of cholesterol along with various disease caused by them. Therefore, you should try to consume dairy products with reduced fat content.
Though oils are extremely rich in fats and provide an immense amount of calories, they can still be considered healthy if consumed properly. Apart from oils sold in bottles, you should remember that some plant products are quite rich in oils. For example, one average sized avocado may contain about three teaspoons of oil, while four olives have one. Moreover, nuts also contain a lot of oil. These oils are healthy as they contain large amounts of vitamin E and unsaturated fatty acids like omega-3 fatty acids.
Each day you may consume up to 5-7 teaspoons of oil. However, the dosage depends on your level of activity, gender, and age. Oils are vital for cellular membranes of all your cells and for maintenance of the right levels of hormones. They also aloe your organism to absorb fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins E, A, and D.
So, this article has provided you with data about the classification of food groups and examples of products that comprise each group. Now you can effortlessly answer the question “What are the food groups?” We hope that this information will help you eat healthy meals each day. Following our recommendations, you will be healthy and active for many years!
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