The four food groups

Enjoy a variety of nutritious foods, including:

  • plenty of vegetables and fruit
  • grain foods, mostly whole grain and those naturally high in fibre
  • some milk and milk products, mostly low- and reduced-fat
  • some legumes, nuts, seeds, fish and other seafood, eggs or poultry, or red meat with the fat removed.

Vegetables and fruit

▶ At least 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit every day.

Vegetables and fruit provide fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

  • Include them in most meals and have as a healthy snack.
  • Eat many different coloured vegetables and fruit.

Serving size examples

  • 1 cup of cooked vegetables or 1 cup of salad
  • 1 medium potato, or similar size piece of kumara, yam, or taro
  • 1 medium apple, pear, banana or orange
  • 1 cup of fresh or stewed fruit salad

Grain foods

▶ At least 6 servings every day – choose mostly whole grain and those naturally high in fibre.

Whole grain foods are naturally high in fibre and contain vitamins and minerals.

Examples include:

  • whole grain bread
  • porridge made with whole or rolled oats
  • brown rice.

Refined grains have fewer naturally-occurring nutrients and much less fibre than whole grains. Examples of refined grains include:

  • white bread
  • white rice
  • many breakfast cereals (eg, puffed rice).

Serving size examples

  • 2 breakfast wheat biscuits
  • 1 whole grain bread roll or 1 sandwich slice of whole grain bread
  • 1 cup of cooked porridge/rolled oats or 1 cup of muesli
  • 1 cup of cooked pasta or brown rice

Milk and milk products

▶ At least 2 servings every day. Choose low-fat or reduced-fat milk and milk products.

Milk, yoghurt and cheese provide protein and vitamins, and minerals including calcium.

  • If you choose a plant-based milk (eg, soy, rice or almond), make sure that it has added calcium (and vitamin B12 if you avoid animal-based foods).

Serving size examples

  • 1 glass (250 mL) of milk or calcium-added soy or rice milk
  • 1 small pottle of yoghurt (125–150 g)
  • 2 slices (40 g) of cheese (eg, edam)

Legumes, nuts, seeds, fish and other seafood, eggs or poultry (eg, chicken), or red meat with the fat removed

▶ At least 2 servings every day of legumes, nuts or seeds or at least 1 serving of seafood, eggs, poultry or red meat every day.

This wide range of foods all provide protein to the diet. Legumes include lentils, split peas, chickpeas and cooked dried beans (eg, red kidney beans, baked beans). Legumes, nuts and seeds are high in fibre, vitamins and minerals.

  • Try to include legumes in some of your meals. For example, add lentils or a can of kidney beans to mince or a casserole.
  • For more meal ideas using legumes, see the Heart Foundation’s Full O’ Beans cookbook.

Nuts and seeds are also high in healthy (unsaturated) fats.

  • Eat small amounts to avoid weight gain.
  • Choose unsalted, raw or dry-roasted nuts and seeds.

Oily fish (eg, salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel) and some seafood such as mussels are good sources of omega 3, which may reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.

  • Fresh or frozen fish or fish canned in spring water are all good choices.

Red meat, chicken and fish all contain iron in a form that your body can easily absorb.

  • If choosing red meat, eat less than 500 g of cooked red meat a week.
  • If you choose not to eat red meat, chicken or fish, see the booklet Eating for Healthy Vegetarians on the HealthEd website.

Serving size examples

  • 3/4 cups of cooked dried beans, peas or lentils
  • Small handful (30 g) of nuts or seeds
  • 1 medium fillet of cooked fish (100 g)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 chicken drumsticks or 1 chicken leg
  • 2 slices of cooked meat (100 g) (eg, roast lamb, chicken, beef or pork)
  • 3/4 cups of mince or casserole
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