World of food: Homemade fettuccine pasta (left), marinated garlic and olives at street market in Provence, France (upper right), and sukiyaki nabemono (Japanese beef hot pot).
Quicklist: Different Types of Food Categories
- Asteraceae (Daisy Family)
- Alliaceae (Onion Family)
- Brassicaceae (Leafy Greens)
- Cucurbitaceae (Gourd Family)
- Solanaceae (Potato Family)
- Fabaceae (Legumes)
- Apiaceae (Parsley Family)
- Amaranthaceae (Beetroot Family)
- Poaceae (Grasses)
- Fungi (Mushrooms)
- Citrus Fruit
- Pome Fruit
- Stone Fruit
- Tropical Fruit
- Chicken (Poultry)
- Pies and Tarts
- Prawns and Shrimp
- Nuts and Seeds
- Herbs and Spices
- Processed Foods
You must have heard of the five basic food groups which refers to a variety of foods (Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Protein Foods, and Dairy) that meet certain criteria. One may wonder why different food items are put into one conceptual basket considering that they seem poles apart.
First, as your common sense may have suggested, they all are food (duh). Secondly, they provide similar kinds of nutrients that are essential for the growth and development of human beings.
Owing to the latter reason, people rely on a wide variety of food items on a regular basis. But that’s not all, folks. Eating a well-balanced diet also protects you from harmful illnesses and infections. This, in turn, contributes to a healthy lifestyle.
Just imagine that you could only have one kind of food every day. Wouldn’t that get boring? Sure, it would. As they say, variety is the spice of life, and it makes sense that having many types of food is important. In this blog, we will go deeper into the basic food groups and discuss the significance of each category.
Main Food Categories List:
- Baked Goods
- Nuts and seeds
- Herbs and Spices
Related: Types of Condiments | Types of Garnish | Types of Herbs | Vegetables and Herbs | Types of Fruit Trees | Types of Beans and Legumes | Types of Mushrooms | Types of Bread | Types of Milk | Types of Nuts | How to Store Cut Cucumbers | Types of Spices | How to Store a Lemon Meringue Pie | Types of Plantains | Types of Food Strainers | Types of Porridge
Food Types List
Each category includes its own list of foods which we set out in detail below. Let’s dive in… here’s our list setting out all kinds of foods.
Types of Vegetables
It’s hard to think of a world without vegetables as they are an essential element of human nutrition. The most mind-blowing feature about veggies is that they are exceedingly versatile.
You can consume them raw, cooked, frozen, or even in the form of juices. Depending on their color, flavor, textures, and nutritional quality, vegetables can be divided into nine families:
1. Asteraceae (Daisy Family)
Asteraceae is composed of over 32,000 species of flowering plants, mainly herbaceous, but some woody cousins (shrubs, vines, and trees), as well. Also known by other names such as the aster or daisy family, Asteraceae includes more than 23,000 varieties of daisies.
The most common vegetables in the family include lettuce, artichoke, endive, chicory, chamomile, and tarragon.
2. Alliaceae (Onion Family)
The Alliaceae or Onion Family has over 500 species native to the Northern Hemisphere.
There are some vegetables that are always stocked or restocked time and time again in our pantry. These are the kinds of vegetables that you most commonly use in your cooking.
They are, after all, what we call staple ingredients that you will find in almost every kitchen. If you haven’t guessed it by now, then let us tell you that they are allium vegetables — garlic, onion, chives, leek, and shallot.
The importance of these vegetables lies in the fact that they help protect the consumer against life-threatening illnesses like cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Field of yellow mustard flowers at sunrise in Yunnan, China.
3. Brassicaceae (Leafy Greens)
The major part of Brassicaceae family includes cruciferous vegetables, also known as, green leafy veggies. The nutrient content of these vegetables is super high as they are packed with vitamins and fiber.
The healthy vegetables that belong to this family are cauliflower, broccoli, collard greens, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, turnip, mustard, wasabi, radish, cress, horseradish, kale and kohlrabi.
4. Cucurbitaceae (Gourd Family)
Cucurbitaceae (the gourd family) features some great summer veggies. The most popular and healthy in this category are cucumber, zucchini, squash, luffa, cantaloupe and pumpkin.
5. Solanaceae (Potato Family)
Commonly known as the potato family, this vegetable group includes other nutritious veggies such as eggplant, pepper, paprika, chili pepper.
Various legumes for sale in Kemeralti Market, Grand Bazaar, Izmir Turkey.
6. Fabaceae (Legumes)
Get your daily dose of protein by having beans, legumes, and lentils belonging to the Fabaceae family. Soybeans, Lupin, clover, lentil, and peas are some of the members of Fabaeceae.
7. Apiaceae (Parsley Family)
More commonly referred to as the parsley family, Apiaceae mainly consists of root vegetables and spices that are used as a flavoring in all kinds of cuisines, from Asian to European.
Some of the vegetables included in this category are carrot, cumin, dill, fennel, celery, coriander, cilantro, parsnip, and of course, parsley.
8. Amaranthaceae (Beetroot Family)
The Amaranthaceae beetroot family offers a rich amount of nutrients — folates, riboflavin, thiamin, and niacin.
The veggies in this family include beetroot, spinach, quinoa, amaranth, goosefoot, sugar beet, and Swiss chard.
9. Poaceae (Grasses)
Vegetables belonging to this family are a staple in many diets: corn, oats, barley, wheat, sugarcane, rice, rye, barley, and a mallet.
10. Fungi (Mushrooms)
Mushrooms are botanically classified as fungi but they get their “vegetable” credentials because of their nutritional value. The United States Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate program treats mushrooms as veggies, considering them an essential source of nutrients and bioactive compounds.
Types of Fruits
Whichever way you consume fruit, their daily intake is crucial for your healthy growth. According to their variety of colors, shapes, and flavors, fruits are classified as follows:
1. Citrus Fruit
The citrus family includes oranges, lemons, limes, mandarins and grapefruit. It is estimated that the water content in citrus fruit is ablmost 90%.
All of these fruits are notably packed with vitamin C which helps boosts the immune system and they are also an excellent source of fiber and potassium.
2. Pome Fruit
Apples and pears are among the most popular fruits that show profound results when consumed regularly. Eat them at any time of the day and they will be quite fulfilling, nourishing you with plenty of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and good dietary fibers.
3. Stone Fruit
Ever wondered why peaches, mangoes, lychee, plums, cherries, and nectarines are known as stone fruits? That’s because they all have a stone in them which is called a “pit”. All of them come with an edible outer shell, tasty flavor, and impeccable health benefits.
Studies have shown that stone fruits boost the immune system, rejuvenate the skin, sharpen the eyesight, promote digestive health, alleviate muscle ache, promote sleep, and protect you against cancer and heart diseases.
4. Tropical Fruit
Also known as exotic fruits, tropical fruits are cultivated in warm climates. The exotic delights include bananas, guava, acai, avocado, Jackfruit, coconut, papaya, star fruit and passion fruit.
All kinds of berries are packed with antioxidants that keep free radicals at bay. As we all know one of the most common causes of skin damage is free radicals. In addition, berries also help control blood sugar and insulin level making them an ideal food source for diabetics.
Primarily, there are three types of melons — watermelons, cantaloupe, and muskmelon. These edible fruits are full of essential minerals and vitamins that ensure the healthy functioning of your body.
Turkish Vali Kebab plate: Adana and Urfa kebabs of chicken, lamb, liver and beef.
Meat is an umbrella term for every type of animal protein. While poultry has it’s own category, technically it’s considered meat. Same with beef, pork and seafood.
For a well-balanced diet, that is also thoroughly rich in valuable nutrients, poultry is a must. You can be at risk of suffering from life-changing diseases and/or infections if your daily diet lacks vital nutrients. The consumption of meat ensures that you get the right dose of nutrients such as iodine, iron, zinc, vitamins, and fatty acids.
In essence, an egg consists of two parts — egg white and yolk, both of which are quite high in nutrition. Research shows that the yolk contains more fat and calories compared to egg white. They are also an excellent source of vitamins such as A, D, E and K.
According to a study published in Pediatrics magazine, children who eat one egg daily for six months are able to attain an ideal height. A Chinese study concluded that the regular intake of an egg a day decreases the chances of heart disease and stroke.
3. Chicken (Poultry)
According to the USDA, a 100g of chicken contains the following nutritional value:
- Protein – 18g
- Iron – 0.9mg
- Fat – 15g
- Saturated fat – 4g
- Cholesterol – 75mg
- Magnesium – 20mg
- Zinc – 1.3mg
- Sodium – 70mg
- Calcium – 11mg
- Potassium – 289mg
In addition, chicken is also rich in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K and vitamin D. Other than chicken, some of the most popular types of poultry are ducks, goose, pigeon, and turkey.
Grains are staples in every culture but the type of grain varies. Common grains throughout the world include:
Legumes are a good source of protein that is not animal-based. Common legumes include:
- Kidney beans
- Pink beans
- Black beans
- roman beans
- Navy beans
- Red beans
- Split Mung beans
- Fava beans
- Split peas
- Green peas
Read our types of legumes for a lot more info here.
Dairy plays a key role in building healthy and strong bones as they are abundant in zinc, protein, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, and magnesium. Some of the major types of dairy food include:
Cow’s fresh milk has an ample amount of vitamins, mineral, and other nutrients which is why their daily consumption is significant.
Yogurt is a milk product that is created through the fermentation of milk. Regular intake of yogurt can help strengthen your immune system and promote weight loss.
You can find a number of types of cheese, having different colors, flavors and textures. Some of the most common types of cheese are feta, Brie, cheddar, gouda, parmesan, Romano and blue cheese.
The sensation you get when you walk into a bakery and smell the pleasant aroma of baked goods coming right out of the oven is simply priceless.
Have a sneak peek into the cake category and you will be mesmerized by the huge variety available including ice cakes, layer cakes, cupcakes, cheesecakes, and roulades.
In this category, you can find a mix of both sweet and savory baked items including choux pastry, puff pastry, phyllo pastry, samosa pastry, sable pastry, short crust pastry, etc.
3. Pies and Tarts
Warm, pretty, tender, and luscious are some of the words that you can use to describe the most delicious pie or tart. With pies and tarts, you can never fall short of choices.
In pies, you have options of an apple pie, banana pie, chocolate pie, coconut pie, and fruit pies while in tarts, you can choose from a chocolate tart, berries tart, cream tart, almond, etc.
The pleasure you get from taking the first bite of freshly-baked cookies is pleasantly sweet always.
Primarily made from eggs, milk, and cream, custards can be sweet, as well as savory. Some of the most universally loved custards include fruit custard, pastry cream, lemon curd and flan.
The first thing that pops into our mind when we say seafood is fish. Readers would agree when we say that fish is an exquisite low-fat food that possesses an ample amount of essential nutrients like protein.
1. Prawns and Shrimp
Shrimp is loaded with protein, selenium, vitamin D, and B12 while prawns have bountiful amounts of potassium, calcium, protein, phosphorus, vitamins E and A.
The American Heart Association suggests eating seafood, especially shrimp and prawns, twice a week to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Whether you eat fresh tuna or canned, it will provide you with plenty of health benefits.
Research shows that eating tuna lowers the risk of heart problems, strokes, cancer, and eye diseases. It also consists of essential omega-3 fats DHA and EPA. It has been estimated that one serving of 500g canned tuna can provide you with 46% of DHA and EPA.
Salmon is dense with nutrients such as protein, vitamins, and minerals. Studies also suggest that eating salmon regularly can help decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke. It is one of those superfoods that is great for the skin, hair and nails.
Nuts and Seeds
I’m a huge nut fan. I eat them almost daily. Fatty? Yes. Nutritious? Yes. Plenty of protein. Good-for-you fats. Not to mention delicious.
There are many types of nuts. We put together an epic article setting out the different types of nuts here.
Herbs and Spices
While not a food in the sense you spoon it up and chomp it down, herbs and spices are edible and are widely used for making food taste better. They also offer many health benefits.
The lists of herbs and spices is so long they need their own posts. Check them out:
Not really food in the sense it forms a meal but it is food; people do eat the garnish and they form a part of a dish.
Read our list of garnish options here.
Oils can be good or bad for you. Olive, coconut, peanut, flaxseed, avocado, canola and walnut, grapeseed, sunflower and sesame oils are good oils to cook with or used for sauces.
Any oil that is in part or fully hydrogenated should be avoided because these are what have trans fatty acids. It’s also recommended to avoid palm oil.
Oils, in general, get a bad rap because they are high in fat but the fact is, we need fat and more importantly, we need good fats. I’m all about dousing my food in healthy oils such as olive oil.
While not in a natural state, we’d be remiss not to include processed foods given the enormous part they play in many people’s diet worldwide. Processed foods are typically cheaper but not as healthy. Think canned food and/or fully processed foods such as cereals, insta-dishes (just-add water products), chips, candy, bars, breads, condiments, sauces and pretty much most of what you’ll find in the grocery store.
What types of food give you gas?
Several foods are known to cause intestinal problems, such as gas, in people.
These foods include:
- Vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage
- Lactose – the sugar found in milk
- Oat bran
- Food high in soluble fiber
- Corn, potatoes, pasta, and other starchy food
- Whole grains, including oatmeal, whole wheat, and brown rice
Why do we need to eat different types of food?
We must eat a variety of foods across the five food groups because they give us a wide range of nutrients to promote health and wellness to reduce the risk of disease.
In addition, this helps to keep your diet interesting with varying tastes and textures.
What types of food to avoid during pregnancy?
When pregnant, you should avoid some foods.
- Seafood that is high in mercury, including swordfish, bigeye tuna and orange roughy
- Raw and uncooked foods (poultry, eggs, seafood and meat)
- Unpasteurized foods
- Excess amounts of caffeine
- Herbal tea
What types of food should I eat to build muscle?
To build muscle, you need protein. A great source of protein is lean meat like turkey and chicken. You should also incorporate eggs, whole grains, dairy, and beans into your diet.
How many types of food allergies are there?
There are eight food allergies that have been identified. They are eggs, fish, milk, shellfish (Crustacean), peanuts, soybeans, tree nuts, and wheat.
What types of food can be composted?
The foods that can be composted are bread, coffee filters, dairy products, eggshells, fruits, grains, meats, and vegetables. In addition, items that can be eaten or grown in a garden or field can be composted.
Types of food that can be preserved?
There are a large number of types of food that can be preserved. Some of them include potatoes, fruits, meats, milk and vegetables.
What types of food can vegetarians eat?
A vegetarian typically eats foods that are plant-based. Foods that fall into this category include vegetables, nuts, fruit, legumes, whole grains and nuts.
What types of food can vegans eat?
A vegan eats plant-based food. They do not eat food that comes from an animal. This includes eggs and dairy. However, they do eat nuts, fruits, grains, and vegetables.