What are the ‘Food Groups’?

Credit:The Cardiacclinic.co.nz

‘Food Groups’ is a way of classifying foods according to the nutrients they provide.  In New Zealand the four food groups are:

  1. Breads and cereals (bread, pasta, rice and breakfast cereals)
  2. Fruit and vegetables
  3. Meat and alternatives (lean red meat, poultry, seafood, nuts & seeds, beans and lentils)
  4. Milk and dairy (milk, cheese, yoghurt)

When it comes to a healthy diet, balance is the key to getting it right. This means eating a wide variety of foods in the right portions from all of these groups.  However we do need to be aware that not all foods are created equal, and ensure that we make healthy choices when it comes to what food we put in our mouths.

Below we have listed the four food groups and given examples of some healthy food choices and some not so healthy that should be avoided.

1. Breads and cereals are a good source of energy and the main source of a range of nutrients in our diet. It is the major source of fuel for our body.

Healthy sources Limit intake or avoid altogether
Wholegrain Oats, rice, barley, cereals, bran , pasta, noodles, wholemeal or wholegrain bread. White bread, commercial pastry, cakes, most biscuits and crackers, croissants.



2. Fruit and Vegetables are a vital source of vitamins and minerals. It’s recommended that we eat five portions of a variety fruit & veg a day.

Healthy sources Limit intake or avoid altogether
All veges eaten raw, lightly cooked or baked, or frozen vegetables.

Fresh fruit.

Potato chips and other vegetables cooked in fat. Olives and capers.

Glace’ fruit.


3. Meat and alternatives are all good sources of protein, which is essential for growth and repair of the body.

Healthy sources Limit intake or avoid altogether
Lean red meat, lean pork, skinless chicken and turkey, liver, kidney and heart, fish, shellfish.

All peas, beans and lentils, canned beans, chickpeas,tofu and low-fat soy drinks.


Sausages, salami and bacon, visible fat on meat, pate’ and luncheon meats (unless lean).

Fried fish or shellfish in batter.


4. Milk and dairy such as cheese and yoghurt are good sources of protein. They also contain calcium, which helps to keep your bones healthy. However some dairy products are high in saturated fat which can raise blood cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease.

Healthy sources Limit intake or avoid altogether
Skim or low-fat milk, low-fat yoghurt and frozen yoghurt. Custard.

Low-fat cheese like Edam.

Cottage cheese and ricotta.

Whole or full cream milk. Cream or sour cream. Mascarpone, cream cheese, hard yellow cheeses (unless fat reduced), cheese spreads.

Condensed milk.



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