The Five Food Groups concept has been a cornerstone of nutrition education for decades. But are they based on good science and logic? Do the Five Food Groups make sense?
Food groups and ‘distinguishing nutrients’
The concept of food groups has been central to nutrition education in many countries for decades. It’s a simple idea: different types of foods make distinctive contributions to the diet so eating a variety of foods from the different food groups should ensure adequate intakes of essential nutrients.
Although all whole foods contain small amounts of a wide variety of nutrients, the distinctive contribution of a food group is due to 4-6 ‘distinguishing nutrients’ found in abundance. As foods in the same food group share distinguishing nutrients they can be exchanged without compromising nutrient intake. This nutritional equivalence allows flexibility in food choice.