Why are meat, poultry, fish, and other foods in this group important?

Meat, poultry, and fish supply protein, B vitamins, iron, and zinc. The other foods in this group - dry beans, eggs, and nuts - are similar to meats in providing protein and most vitamins and minerals. The Food Guide Pyramid suggests 2 to 3 servings each day of foods from this group. The total amount of these servings should be the equivalent of 5 to 7 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish per day.

What counts as a serving?

Count 2-3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish as a serving. A 3-ounce piece of meat is about the size of an average hamburger, or the amount of meat on a medium chicken breast half.

For other foods in this group, count 1/2 cup of cooked dry beans or 1 egg as 1 ounce of lean meat. 2 tablespoons of peanut butter or 1/3 cup of nuts count as 1 ounce of meat (about 1/3 serving).

Counting to see if you have an equivalent of 5-7 ounces of cooked lean meat a day is tricky. Portions sizes vary with the type of food and meal. For example, 6 ounces might come from:

1 egg (count as 1 oz. of lean meat) for breakfast;

2 oz. of sliced turkey in a sandwich at lunch; and

a 3 oz. cooked lean hamburger for dinner.




Chuck Arm


Center Loin


All cuts except ground


Fore Shanks


Light & dark meat, without the skin


Most are low in fat; those marinated or canned in oil are higher

Here are some selection tips:

-Choose lean meat, poultry without skin, fish, and dry beans and peas often. They are the choices lowest in fat.

-Prepare meats in lowfat ways:

Trim away all the fat you can see.

Broil, roast, or boil these foods, instead of frying them.

-Go easy of egg yolk; they are high in cholesterol. Use only one yolk per person in egg dishes. Make larger portions by adding extra egg whites.

-Nuts and seeds are high in fat, so eat them in moderation.


Be Aware of Where Your Food is Coming From...

The Shedd Aquarium of Chicago warns its visitors that, while the fish group is an essential part of a person's nutrition, it is important to be aware of the conditions under which the fish you eat was caught.

Best Choices: These are your best seafood choices! These fish are abundant, well managed and caught or farmed in environmentally friendly ways. This group includes the following fish:

- Catfish (farmed)

- Caviar (farmed)

- Clams (farmed)

- Crab: Dungeness

- Crab: Snow (Canada)

- Crab: Stone

- Halibut: Pacific

- Lobster: Spiny/Rock (US, Australia)

- Mussels (farmed)

- Oysters (farmed)

- Salmon (wild-caught from Alaska)

- Salmon (canned)

- Sardines

- Shrimp/Prawns (trap-caught)

- Striped Bass (farmed)

- Sturgeon (farmed)

- Tilapia (US farmed)

- Trout: Rainbow (farmed)

- Tuna: Albacore (troll/pole caught)

- Tuna: Bigeye (troll/pole caught)

- Tuna: Yellowfin (troll/pole caught)

Proceed With Caution: These are good choices, but there are some concerns with the way they are caught or farmed. They are, however, better choices than items in the Avoid column. This group includes the following fish:

- Clams (wild-caught)

- Cod: Pacific

- Crab: Blue

- Crab: Imitation/Surimi

- Crab: King (Alaska)

- Crab: Snow (US)

- Flounder: Summer/Fluke

- Lobster: American/Maine

- Mahimahi/Dolphinfish/Dorado

- Oysters (wild-caught)

- Pollock

- Scallops: Bay

- Scallops: Sea

- Shrimp (US farmed or US wild-caught)

- Soles (Pacific)

- Squid

- Swordfish (US)

- Tuna: Albacore (longline-caught)

- Tuna: Bigeye (longline-caught)

- Tuna: Yellowfin (longline-caught)

- Tuna (canned)

Avoid: Avoid these products, at least for now. These fish come from sources that are overfished or caught or farmed in ways that harm other marine life or the environment. This group includes the following fish:

- Caviar (wild-caught)

- Chilean Sea Bass/Toothfish

- Cod: Atlantic/Icelandic

- Crab: King (imported)

- Flounders: (Atlantic) except Summer Flounder

- Groupers

- Halibut: Atlantic

- Monkfish

- Orange Roughy

- Rockfish/Rock Cod (Pacific)

- Salmon (farmed/Atlantic)

- Sharks

- Shrimp (imported)

- Snapper: Red

- Soles (Atlantic)

- Sturgeon (wild-caught)

- Swordfish (imported)

- Tuna: Bluefin

* Some information provided by the Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, IL

back        next