MyPlate: A Variety of Vegetables
Make room for vegetables. Remember, vegetables, along with fruit, should cover half of your plate. Choose a variety of multi-colored vegetables from these vegetable groups to boost nutrition and keep your taste buds happy:
- Dark green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, romaine lettuce, and bok choy.
- Red and orange vegetables such as tomatoes, red pepper, carrots, and butternut squash.
- Beans and peas such as kidney beans, soy beans, and split peas.
- Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn, green peas, and water chestnuts.
- Other vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, and celery.
MyPlate: A Range of Fruits
Fresh, whole fruits are ideal because you get the added value of maximum vitamins and fiber in your diet. But frozen and dried fruit count, too -- as does 100% fruit juice. Try different fruits, such as mangoes, raspberries, or kiwi, along with apples, bananas, oranges, and your other favorites.
MyPlate: Healthy Whole Grains
Aim to eat at least half of your grains as whole -- rather than refined -- grains. That means choosing brown rice, whole-grain bread, and whole-wheat pasta over white rice, white bread, and regular pasta. You can also add whole grains like oatmeal, muesli, and bulgur to your diet. Whole grains give you the entire grain, including the bran "coating" and the nutrient-rich "germ" inside the grain. That means you can enjoy added nutritional value and fiber -- plus more texture and taste.
MyPlate: Lean Protein Foods
Whether you're a vegetarian or an omnivore, fill only a quarter of your plate with protein foods. Choose a variety of proteins to maximize your intake of vitamins and minerals. Also limit processed meats like hot dogs, luncheon meats, and sausage, which have added fat and salt. Aim for low-fat proteins to help keep your waist trim and your weight under control.
The following are good sources of healthy protein:
- Lean cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and other meats
- Fish and shellfish
- Beans and peas
- Tofu and other soy products
- Chicken, turkey, and other poultry
- Nuts and seeds (use sparingly)
Because beans and peas are high-protein vegetables and a staple in vegetarian diets, they count as both "protein foods" and "vegetables" in meal planning.
MyPlate: Low-Fat Dairy
When you imagine your "plate," picture a glass of milk on your place mat, as well. The MyPlate icon sports a "glass-of-dairy" icon as a reminder to add low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, and other calcium-rich dairy products to your diet. Calcium-fortified soy milk and lactose-free milk are widely available now for those who are lactose intolerant. High-fat foods made from milk that have little calcium in them, such as cream cheese and butter, don't count as "dairy."
More MyPlate Tips for Good Nutrition
- Switch to nonfat or 1% milk to reduce extra fat calories.
- Avoid oversized portions and "super-sized" meals. Savor meals rather than pile on more food.
- Choose low-salt soups, breads, frozen meals, sauces, and other processed foods; check food labels for sodium content to compare brands.
- Avoid sugary drinks and sodas, and drink water instead.