Defining "Protein" foods

Julie Hess, Joanne L Slavin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Changing the name of the "protein foods" group on the US Department of Agriculture's visual food guide, MyPlate, back to the "meat & beans" group would provide important clarification regarding US Department of Agriculture recommendations for a balanced diet. Previous iterations of the food guide named the protein group after its constituent foods (ie, the "meat & beans" group on the 2005 MyPyramid), and the reasons for renaming the entire group with MyPlate are unclear. The exclusion of dairy foods from the "protein foods" group of the 2010 MyPlate illustrates the shortcomings of this group's name. Dairy foods contain high-quality, affordable protein and constitute a significant portion of the protein intake among the US population but are not listed as "protein foods" on MyPlate. Dairy products and other high-calcium foods do have their own section of MyPlate; however, having this separate group does not mitigate the disingenuousness of having a "protein group" that excludes an important protein source. In addition, because consumers tend to understand food-based terms better than nutrient-based terms, a change to "meat & beans" group would also provide clarification for consumers and for educators regarding the content and role of this group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-120
Number of pages4
JournalNutrition Today
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2016


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