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Sharon Curtain

Sharon Curtain

Accredited Practising Dietitian
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How many serves of each food group do I need?

Guides — Posted 27/08/15

Get a healthy balance of nutrients each day to feel bright, energised and nourished.

A healthy diet needs a balance of both quality and quantity. Quality comes from the core food groups which provide the nutrients needed to keep our bodies functioning at their best. Quantity takes into consideration the number of serves of each food group and what a serve looks like.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines encourage us to enjoy a wide variety of foods from each of the food groups, as each food group offers key nutrients, and each food within a food group offers varying amounts of these key nutrients.

Foods that fit outside the five core food groups are considered ‘discretionary’ foods. This group includes alcohol, hot chips, pies and sausage rolls, processed meats, takeaway foods, cakes, biscuits, lollies and chocolates. These foods contribute very little fibre, vitamins or minerals and having them often and in large portions can exceed the amount of saturated fat, added sugars and added salt recommended for good health.

This calculator is based on The Australian Dietary Guidelines 2013 and provides a guide of how many serves of each food group you should aim for each day, to help your body get the nutrients it needs.

More details can be found at 

Vegetables and legumes/beans


Vegetables, including legumes/beans are low in kilojoules and high in nutrients. Not only are they a good source of dietary fibre, they provide us with minerals, vitamins and antioxidants.

Key nutrients provided

• Beta-carotene and other carotenoids

• Dietary fibre

• Potassium

• Vitamin C

• Folate

• Carbohydrate (potato, sweet potato, sweet corn, legumes)

• Magnesium

• Iron

How much is a serve?

A standard serve is about 75 g (100–350 kJ) or:

• ½ cup cooked green or orange vegetables (for example, broccoli, spinach, carrots or pumpkin)

• ½ cup cooked dried or canned beans, peas or lentils (preferably with no added salt)

•  1 cup green leafy or raw salad vegetables

•  ½ cup sweet corn

• ½ medium potato or other starchy vegetable (sweet potato, taro or cassava)

• 1 medium tomato




Fruit not only satisfies a sweet craving, it is also rich in dietary fibre, and provides plenty of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants

Key nutrients provided

• Vitamin C

• Dietary fibre

• Potassium

• Carbohydrate

• Folate

• Beta-carotene

How much is a serve?

A standard serve is about 150 g (350 kJ) or:

• 1 medium apple, banana, orange or pear

• 2 small apricots, kiwi fruits or plums

• 1 cup diced or canned fruit (no added sugar)

Or only occasionally:

• 125 ml (½ cup) fruit juice (no added sugar)

• 30 g dried fruit (for example, 4 dried apricot halves, 1½ tablespoons of sultanas)


Grain (cereal) foods


The grains and cereal group provides energy from carbohydrates, used by active bodies. Wholemeal or wholegrain varieties are the best choice as they have higher levels of dietary fibre and B vitamins. Cereals are often fortified to be good sources of folate and iron.

Key nutrients provided

• Carbohydrates

• Small amounts of protein,thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, iron, magnesium, zinc, vitamin E and iodine

How much is a serve?

A standard serve is (500 kJ), or:

• 1 slice (40 g) bread

• ½ medium (40 g) roll or flat bread

• ½ cup (75-120 g) cooked rice, pasta, noodles, barley, buckwheat, semolina, polenta, bulgur or quinoa

• ½ cup (120 g) cooked porridge

• ²/³ cup (30 g) wheat cereal flakes

• ¼ cup (30 g) muesli

• 3 (35 g) crispbreads

• 1 (60 g) crumpet

• 1 small (35 g) English muffin or scone

The best choices are wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties.


Lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans


The meat and meat alternative group provides us with protein, essential fatty acids and important vitamins and minerals for growth and repair. Vegetarians can meet their protein needs by including legumes/beans, tofu and nuts and seeds. Due to the higher fat content of nut and seeds, serves are smaller to match the kilojoules from other protein foods.

Key nutrients provided

• Protein

• Iron

• Zinc

• Vitamin B12 (animal foods only)

• Long chain omega 3 fatty acids (oily fish, small amounts from lean grass-fed red meat, poultry and some eggs)

• Vitamin E (seeds, nuts)

• Dietary fibre (plant foods only)

• Essential fatty acids

• Niacin

How much is a serve?

A standard serve is (500–600 kJ), or:

• 65 g cooked lean red meats such as beef, lamb, veal, pork, goat or kangaroo (about 90-100 g raw)

• 80 g cooked lean poultry such as chicken or turkey (100 g raw)

• 100 g cooked fish fillet (about 115 g raw) or one small can of fish

• 2 large (120 g) eggs

• 1 cup (150 g) cooked or canned legumes/beans such as lentils, chick peas or split peas (preferably with no added salt)

• 170 g tofu

• 30 g nuts, seeds, peanut or almond butter or tahini or other nut or seed paste (no added salt)*

*Only to be used occasionally as a substitute for other foods in the group (note: this amount for nuts and seeds gives approximately the same amount of energy as the other foods in this group but will provide less protein, iron or zinc)


Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives


Milk, yoghurt and cheese are rich sources of calcium and other minerals, protein, and vitamins, including B12.The guidelines suggest we choose mostly reduced fat dairy foods to help decrease the total kilojoules we consume.

Key nutrients provided

• Protein

• Fat

• Carbohydrate

• Calcium

• Riboflavin

• Vitamin B12

• Magnesium

• Zinc

• Potassium

How much is a serve?

A standard serve is (500–600 kJ), or:

• 1 cup (250 ml) fresh milk, UHT long life milk, reconstituted powdered milk or buttermilk

• ½ cup (120 ml) evaporated milk

• 2 slices (40 g) or 4 x 3 x 2 cm cube (40 g) of hard cheese, such as cheddar

• ½ cup (120 g) ricotta cheese

• ¾ cup (200 g) yoghurt

• 1 cup (250 ml) soy, rice or other cereal drink with at least 100 mg of added calcium per 100 ml

• 100 g almonds with skin

• 60 g sardines, canned in water

• ½ cup (100 g) canned pink salmon with bones

• 100 g firm tofu (check the label as calcium levels vary)


Discretionary foods


Used for treats, enjoyed socially and as part of celebrations, discretionary foods are factored into a healthy diet if consumed occasionally and in small amounts. Portion size is the biggest issue, as the excess kilojoules quickly add up without contributing beneficial nutrients.

Key nutrients provided

• Fat

• Sugar

• Salt

• Excess kilojoules

How much is a serve?

A standard serve is around 600 kJ, or:

• 2 scoops (75 g) regular ice cream

• 50-60 g (about two slices) processed meats, salami, mettwurst

• 1½ thick or 2 thinner higher fat/salt sausages

• 30 g salty crackers (a small individual serve packet)

• 2-3 sweet biscuits

• 1 (40 g) doughnut

• 1 slice (40 g) plain cake/ cake-type muffin

• 40 g sugar confectionary (about 5-6 small lollies)

• 60 g jam/honey (about 2 tablespoons)

• 1/2 small bar (25 g) chocolate

• 200 ml wine (2 standard drinks. Note this is often 1 glass for many Australian wines)

• 60 ml spirits (2 standard drinks)

• 600 ml light beer (1½ standard drinks)

• 400 ml regular beer (1½ standard drinks)

• 1 can (375 ml) soft drink

References/more info

The Australian Dietary Guidelines

Extra   Learn more about the recommended dietary guidelines, decoding food labels and what Australians are really eating.
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