Food Groups Chart

Discover the importance of balanced nutrition. Learn how to enjoy a variety of foods in moderation for optimal health and well-being with the Food Groups Chart.

By Karina Jimenea on Apr 08, 2024.

Fact Checked by Ericka Pingol.

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What are the different food groups?

The five food groups — fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy — form the foundation of a healthy eating pattern (United States Department of Agriculture, 2017). Incorporating various foods from each group into your meal prep ensures that your body receives the necessary nutrients for optimal health and wellness. Let's delve into the major food groups commonly recognized in dietary guidelines and recommendations.


The fruit group is one of the five food groups outlined in the food guide pyramid, a visual representation of healthy eating. It includes a variety of fruits such as apples, bananas, oranges, berries, and more. Fruits are filled with essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber, making them a nutritious choice for snacks or as part of meals.


Another major food group in the food pyramid is vegetables. This group encompasses many options, including dark green vegetables like spinach and broccoli and other varieties such as carrots, peppers, and tomatoes. Vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, promoting overall health and well-being.


Grains form the foundation of the food pyramid, emphasizing their importance in a healthy diet. This group includes whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, oats and refined grains like white bread and pasta. Whole grains are particularly beneficial, providing fiber and essential nutrients that refined grains may lack.

Protein foods

Protein foods are vital for muscle repair, growth, and overall body function. This food group comprises a variety of options, including lean meats, poultry, fish, tofu, beans, and lentils. Incorporating protein-rich foods into meals helps maintain muscle mass and supports a healthy metabolism.


The dairy group includes milk, yogurt, cheese, and fortified plant-based milk alternatives. These are excellent sources of calcium, protein, and vitamins like vitamin D. Consuming dairy products contributes to strong bones and teeth, making it an essential part of a balanced diet.

Printable Food Groups Chart

Download this Food Groups Chart that helps individuals make informed choices about their diet by highlighting the different food groups and their nutritional benefits.

What are the benefits of using a Food Groups Chart?

The Food Groups Chart is beneficial in various ways.

Promotes a healthy diet

It helps individuals make informed choices about their diet by highlighting the different food groups and their nutritional benefits. By following the recommendations on the chart, individuals can ensure they consume a variety of foods that contribute to a healthy and balanced diet.

Encourages balanced meals

By incorporating foods from each food group into their meals, individuals can create balanced meals that provide a wide range of nutrients. This helps prevent nutrient deficiencies and promotes overall health and well-being.

Enhances nutritional awareness

Using a Food Groups Chart increases awareness of the nutritional content of different foods and the importance of variety in the diet. It encourages individuals to explore new foods from each food group, leading to a more diverse and nutrient-rich diet.

Supports weight management

Following the recommendations can help individuals manage their weight more effectively. By consuming foods from all food groups in appropriate portions, individuals can maintain a healthy weight and avoid overeating or undereating.

Portion control

The chart helps practice portion control. This promotes mindful eating habits and prevents excessive calorie intake, improving overall health and weight management.

What are the downsides to having too much of each food group?

Excessive intake of any food can pose health risks. Therefore, practicing moderation and balance in consuming each food group is crucial.

Excess fruits

Too much fruit consumption can lead to an overconsumption of natural sugars, which may contribute to weight gain and dental issues (WebMD Editorial Contributors, 2021). Moreover, excessive fruit intake may displace other nutrient-dense foods from the diet, potentially leading to nutrient deficiencies.

Overindulgence in vegetables

While vegetables are generally low in calories and high in nutrients, consuming excessive amounts can lead to digestive discomfort and bloating due to their high fiber content (Schoenfeld, n.d.). Additionally, some vegetables may contain naturally occurring compounds that, when consumed in excess, could adversely affect specific individuals.

Excessive grain consumption

A study suggests a connection between consuming refined grains and an increased likelihood of experiencing significant heart disease events, particularly strokes. Individuals who consume seven or more servings of refined grains daily face a higher risk of suffering a stroke (Thoroughly Nourished Life, 2022). A diet high in refined grains may lack the fiber and essential nutrients in whole grains, increasing the risk of nutrient deficiencies and chronic diseases.

Overconsumption of protein

Eating excessive amounts of protein foods, mainly those high in saturated fats like red meats and processed meats, can increase the risk of heart disease and other health conditions. 

High-protein diets, popular for weight loss and managing type 2 diabetes, may exacerbate renal function decline, potentially leading to chronic kidney disease. Thus, caution is advised in adopting such diets, particularly for individuals at risk of kidney disease, and further research is needed to understand their impact fully (Ko et al., 2020).

Too much dairy

Although dairy products provide essential nutrients like calcium and vitamin D, overconsumption can increase calorie intake and weight gain. Moreover, some individuals may experience lactose intolerance or dairy sensitivities, leading to digestive problems and discomfort when consuming too much dairy (Landsverk, 2020).

How do I use this chart?

A balanced diet is critical for your overall health and well-being. The Food Groups Chart provided here offers a convenient tool to help you plan nutritious meals. You may also use this with the Food Diary and Food Allergy Chart. Follow these steps to utilize the chart effectively:

Step 1: Download the template

Begin by downloading the Food Groups Chart template provided. You can save it to your computer or print it for easy reference.

Step 2: Familiarize yourself with the food groups

Take a moment to review the five food groups listed on the chart: Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Protein Foods, and Dairy. Familiarize yourself with examples of foods that belong to each group.

Step 3: Provide examples for each food group

In the chart, you'll find fillable fields under each food group category. Enter specific examples of foods you enjoy and readily available to you. Aim for diversity within each group to ensure you get a wide range of nutrients.

Step 4: Consider nutritional benefits

Next to each list of examples, you'll find a brief description of the nutritional benefits of that food group. Take note of these benefits as you make your selections.

Step 5: Plan balanced meals

Use the completed Food Groups Chart as a reference when planning your meals. Aim to include foods from each group in your daily diet to ensure you get various nutrients.

Step 6: Monitor portion sizes and moderation

While it's essential to include foods from all food groups, be mindful of portion sizes and moderation, especially for foods high in fat, sugar, and sodium.

Step 7: Customize based on dietary needs

Customize your food choices based on your preferences, cultural background, and health goals. Consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian if you have specific nutritional needs or restrictions.

Step 8: Enjoy balanced and nutritious meals

With the Food Groups Chart as your guide, enjoy a balanced and nutritious diet that supports your overall health and wellness.

These steps will help you use the Food Groups Chart to plan and maintain a healthy eating pattern.

Food Groups Chart example

Explore the sample Food Groups Chart provided to see examples of foods from each group and their associated benefits. This chart serves as a helpful reference to assist you in planning nutritious meals and snacks that incorporate various foods from all food groups.

Download our free Food Groups Chart example here

Food Groups Chart example


Ko, G., Rhee, C. M., Kalantar-Zadeh, K., & Joshi, S. (2020). The effects of high-protein diets on kidney health and longevity. Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, 31(8), 1667-1679.

Landsverk, G. (2020, March 3). 6 side effects of consuming too much dairy, from bloating to acne. Business Insider.

Schoenfeld, L. (n.d.). Are you eating too many vegetables?

Thoroughly Nourished Life. (2022, December 4). The side effects of eating too much whole grain.

United States Department of Agriculture. (2017, September 26). Back to basics: All about MyPlate food groups. USDA.

WebMD Editorial Contributors. (2021, May 21). How much fruit is too much? WebMD.

Why are food groups important in a balanced diet?
Why are food groups important in a balanced diet?

Commonly asked questions

Why are food groups important in a balanced diet?

Food groups provide essential nutrients that support overall health and well-being by ensuring a diverse intake of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.

How many servings of each food group should I aim for daily?

The recommended servings vary depending on age, sex, and activity level. However, aim for various foods from each group throughout the day.

Can I meet all my nutritional needs by focusing on one food group?

While each food group offers valuable nutrients, it's essential to consume various foods from all groups to ensure a well-rounded intake of nutrients.

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