With the release of the new food group pyramid, there are officially five food groups. Oils and butters are now included as a food group; but for the purpose of this paper, we are still going to consider ourselves to have only four. The four food groups are grains, fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy. Let's take a look at each food group and discuss a few of the more important points from each group.

Grains cover a broad range of food: breads, cereals, rice, and pasta. That's quite an array of food. Breads come in so many varieties; pita, rye, white, and wheat are the more popular varieties. Cereals are so numerous there's not enough room on fifty pages to discuss the varieties offered. Rice and pasta are a little more limited in their offerings, but are still quite varied. Almost every choice we make in this group will have vitamins and minerals added for our nutritional supplementation. That's a good thing, since most of us won't consume our recommended dietary allowance, or even get close without the fortification of our milk and grain food group.

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The next food group to be discussed is the vegetable group. Okay, here is the opportunity to score real nutritional "brownie" points, since it's almost impossible to make a bad choice, or even overeat. The only members of this food group that we must be careful to not overdo are the starchy vegetables. These vegetables have a tendency to turn into sugar once consumed, and we usually don't need an excess of sugar.

Fruits are a healthful category, so long as we remember to watch our consumption of fruits that provide too much sugar. Most fruits contain naturally occurring sugars; although these occur naturally in the food, it doesn't mean we need to consume uncontrolled quantities. A healthy daily allowance of fruit includes about 4 servings.

The meat, poultry, fish, dry beans and eggs food group contains the protein your body needs in order to develop properly. Without protein, your brain and many other body organs do not properly develop. If not properly developed, they will not work properly. Protein is one of the most important pieces of our growth and development needs. The down side in this food group, would be the fact that animal meats have naturally occurring cholesterol, and although some cholesterol is good for us, too much is unhealthy.

The last food group we're going to discuss is the dairy food. Milk, yogurt, and cheese belong to this food group. Again, one of the most important vitamins we need can be found in this food group. Calcium is essential to the optimal functioning our cell processes, and the growth of our bones. Calcium has a tremendous effect on the health of our heart and other vital organs. Inadequate consumption of calcium can lead to long-term life altering consequences. Osteoporosis is the leader among crippling of post menopausal women, and it is simply due to a lack of needed calcium during the earlier years.

It is absolutely necessary for everyone, children and adults to understand the importance each of these four food groups plays in our healthy development, from childhood to old age.

The Four Food Groups

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