Maine Beef Council
Maine Beef Council

Make Smart Choices From Every Food Group

Good nutrition doesn’t have to be a challenge. You can have the healthy body you want by following these basic principles based on USDA Dietary Guidelines and MyPyramid.

  • Keep good nutrition simple
  • Stay within calorie limits
  • Enjoy foods that are rich in essential nutrients from all five food groups
  • Find your balance between food and physical activity

There are five food groups for a good reason. No single food or food group can provide all the 50 plus nutrients you need each day. The five food groups are: meat, milk, grains, fruits and vegetables. MyPyramid recommends choosing foods rich in essential nutrients from all food groups.

For a healthier, more active lifestyle, choose nutrient-rich foods first, and then if you have any calories left over from your daily-recommended calories, you might consider small portions of other foods.

Focus on foods from the base of the pyramid from each food group. At the base you’ll find foods that provide more nutrients with fewer calories, less saturated fat and smaller amounts of (or no) added sugar. Eating this way makes every calorie you take in more valuable.

These tips will help you make healthy choices:

  • Shop the perimeter of the store for the freshest nutrient-rich foods, including:

    • Brightly colored fruits, such as blueberries, strawberries and oranges and vibrant green, red, yellow and orange vegetables like tomatoes, spinach and orange peppers. The more colorful a fresh food is the higher in nutrients and cancer-fighting anti-oxidants. The more colors you eat, the more varied vitamins, minerals and other nutrients your body will benefit from.
    • Choose whole grain, fortified and fiber-rich bread and whole-grain pasta products (instead of white breads and pastas)
    • Opt for nonfat or low-fat milk, cheese and yogurt products
    • Enjoy lean proteins such as lean beef, eggs and fish
  • Select lean ground beef that is at least 90 % lean for hamburgers, chili or other dishes that use ground beef
  • Serve whole-grain cereals, such as oatmeal for breakfast
  • Make an easy breakfast or snack from low-fat yogurt and fresh fruit
  • When snacking, choose brightly colored red, green, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, low-fat yogurt or lean beef jerky
  • Make a healthy sandwich using whole-grain breads and lean protein such as roast beef and top with dark green lettuce and bright red tomatoes
  • Turn a salad into an entrée by including fruits, vegetables and a lean protein, such as grilled steak to create personalized eating plans and interactive tools to help you plan and assess your food choices.


The Power of Protein: high-Quality Protein promotes optimal health

A growing body of evidence suggests that protein is important in preventing chronic disease and in aiding in weight loss. Diet is critical to good health, so the sites below may be helpful. They provide up-to-date information about beef, low-fat beef preparation, and nutrition in general.

Research shows evidence that protein plays a critical role in diet quality, weight management, muscle development and maintenance, and in reducing risk of several diseases including diabetes and scarcopenia.

Please visit: offers
numerous materials and downloads for health professionals and patients, teachers, and consumers. 


Recognizing society’s heightened emphasis on health, wellness and nutrition, the Beef Checkoff Program and the National Dairy Council are working together to address common challenges and portunities in promoting the nutritional benefits of beef and dairy products to consumers to ensure that consumers recognize the necessity of animal-based protein as part of a healthy diet. Both NDC and Beef Checkoff Program are founding members of the Nutrient Rich Foods Coalition (NRFC), a partnership that brings together leading scientific researchers, communication experts and agricultural commodities that represent all five basic food groups. The NRFC works to increase public awareness of nutrient density as a cornerstone of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPyramid, which recognize low-fat and fat-free dairy foods, and lean beef as part of a healthy diet.

For more information on NRFC, visit

Visit these additional sites.

Addressing nutrition and health in schools is the purpose of this site, especially designed for school kitchens and dining rooms and classroom:

A growing body of research shows that regular family mealtimes have a positive impact on all aspects of a child’s development – physical, mental, behavioral, social and educational. This kit provides school leaders, health professionals, and parent volunteers the tools needed to promote family mealtimes in their schools or youth organizations. Contents include “how-to” tips, advice, simple recipes, shopping lists, conversation starters plus many other resources.

Over 120 recipes using lean beef are featured in "The Healthy Beef Cookbook"  - a 288-page reference published by the American Dietetics Association and National Cattlemen's Beef Association:  

If beef is what's for dinner at your house, you'll enjoy seeing the many recipes and ideas this site lends.  Whether you're looking for something different and special or a tried-and-true favorite, you're sure to find a recipe here.

Forget how to use a meat thermometer? Don't remember what temp to cook beef? Interested in food safety and fighting bacteria? Visit

ZIP -- Zinc, Iron, Protein -- can add lilt to your step.

Funded by the Beef Checkoff © Copyright 2019, Maine Beef Industry.