A four-food-group diet is as balanced as Olympic star Mary Lou Retton, but too much of the seldom mentioned fifth group can knock a nutritious diet right off the beam, warns the California Dietetic Assn. (CDA), Los Angeles District.
The nutrient-based food groups--milk, meat, vegetables and fruits, breads and cereals--are based on the major nutrients they supply such as calcium for bones and teeth, protein for healthy muscles, A, C and B vitamins for healthy skin and tissues and fiber for proper digestion.
The 'fifth' food group, however, accents four food group selections with extra flavor, but is high in calories and low in nutrients. Members of the fifth food group include alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, high-fat and high-sugar extra foods such as mayonnaise, oils, butter, margarine, gravies, cookies, cakes, candy and chips.
When these extra foods are continually substituted for nutritious foods, such as a can of soda pop instead of a glass of juice or milk, or some cookies instead of a piece of fruit, nutrition suffers in the long run.