Understanding USDA MyPlate

The USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) has guidelines to help you make healthy food choices. These are called MyPlate. MyPlate shows the food groups that make up healthy meals using the image of a place setting. Before you eat, think about the healthiest choices for what to put onto your plate or into your cup or bowl. To learn more about building a healthy plate, visit www.choosemyplate.gov.

MyPlate icon.

The food groups

  • Fruits. Any fruit or 100% fruit juice counts as part of the Fruit Group. Fruits may be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried, and may be whole, cut-up, or pureed. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.

  • Vegetables. Any vegetable or 100% vegetable juice counts as a member of the Vegetable Group. Vegetables may be fresh, frozen, canned, or dried. They can be served raw or cooked and may be whole, cut-up, or mashed. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.

  • Grains. All foods made from grains are part of the Grains Group. These include wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, and barley such as bread, pasta, oatmeal, cereal, tortillas, and grits. Grains should be no more than a quarter of your plate. At least half of your grains should be whole grains.

  • Protein. This group includes meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, processed soy products (like tofu), nuts (including nut butters), and seeds. Make protein choices no more than a quarter of your plate. Meat and poultry choices should be lean or low fat.

  • Dairy. All fluid milk products and foods made from milk that contain calcium, like yogurt and cheese, are part of the Dairy Group. (Foods that have little calcium, such as cream, butter, and cream cheese, are not part of the group.) Most dairy choices should be low-fat or fat-free.

  • Oils. These are fats that are liquid at room temperature. They include canola, corn, olive, soybean, and sunflower oil. Foods that are mainly oil include mayonnaise, certain salad dressings, and soft margarines. You should have only 5 to 7 teaspoons of oils a day. You probably already get this much from the food you eat.