Basics of Good Nutrition

Basics of Good Nutrition

Good nutrition starts with nutrient-dense foods. Choose foods from the 5 food groups for most of what you eat. Use the MyPlate template as a guide to filling your plate. Know what foods you should limit and make simple changes to build health. 

Choose Nutrient-Dense Foods

They key to a healthy diet is choosing nutrient-dense foods. Nutrient-dense foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, lean protein, and unsaturated fat. For example, one slice of whole-wheat bread has about the same number of calories as a slice of white bread. But the whole-wheat bread has 4 times as much magnesium and potassium, 3 times the zinc, twice the fiber, and twice the protein. 

Eat More Nutrient-Rich Foods

More vegetables, fruits, dried peas and beans, whole grains, low or nonfat dairy, lean meats and poultry, seafood, nuts, and unsaturated vegetables oils 

Eat Less Sodium, Saturated Fat, Added Sugars, and Processed Foods

Red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, refined grains 

Young woman grocery shopping and comparing produce

Choose Foods from the Five Food Groups

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 defines 5 food groups. Each day, try to choose a variety of foods from each group. Use the MyPlate Plan to find out what and how much to eat within your calorie allowance. 

If you have chronic kidney disease, talk to your dietitian about which foods are right for you. 

Here are the Five Food Groups 

Make Simple Changes to Build Health

Simple changes to what you eat each day can make a difference. Learn about My Plate and what foods to limit to make the best choices. 

Image of a plate that is 1/2 fruits and vegetables, 1/4 whole grains, and 1/4 protein

Understand the Healthy Plate

MyPlate is a simple and easy way to make a healthy plate. When preparing your plate, fill 

  • 1/2 your plate with nonstarchy vegetables and fruit 
  • 1/4 your plate with a grain or starchy vegetable 
  • 1/4 of your plate with protein. 

Learn more at: https://www.myplate.gov/ 

Pie chart that demonstrates that 85% of nutrients should come from 5 food groups and 15% should come from sugars, fats, etc.

Know What to Include and What to Limit

To make sure you are getting the nutrients your body needs, about 85% of your daily calories should be from the 5 food groups. The other 15% can be from other options, including added sugars and saturated fat. 

Simple Changes to Build Health

Limit the following to build health: 

• Added sugars (less than 10 percent of calories per day) 

• Saturated fat (less than 10 percent of calories per day) 

• Sodium (less than 2300 mg per day although your doctor may lower this recommendation based on your needs) 

• Alcohol (choose not to drink or drink in moderation). Limit intake to 2 drinks or less in a day for men and 1 drink or less a day for women.