Get to know your food groups

Not sure about food quantities? Here are some tips from the Heart Foundation.  

Knowing what to eat is one thing but understanding how much is another. While there’s no hard and fast rule for serving sizes, these easy-to-follow guidelines can help you choose the right portions to fuel your body.

Created with the Heart Foundation
Plate full of veggies, meat and pasta

Eating is one of life’s great pleasures – but figuring out how much to eat of different food types can be a tricky process. Check out these handy tips to help you plan and portion your meals and snacks throughout the day.  

Mealtime: Think about your plate as a whole 

Rather than focusing too much on individual ingredients, create a healthy meal by dividing your dinner plate into quarters, like this:   

Fill one quarter with healthy protein 

Protein is an important food source. Different types of proteins provide different benefits to your body and some should be eaten more frequently than others.  

Amounts to include on your plate: 

  • Legumes (150g or cooked or tinned beans or other pulses), aim for 3–4 times per week 
  • Fish (150g of fresh fish the size of your hand or 100g of unflavoured tinned fish), aim for 2–3 times per week 
  • Poultry (100g; choose a piece the size of your hand), aim for 2–4 meals per week 
  • Lean red meat (a maximum of 350g per week), aim for 1–3 times per week
  • Eggs (1–2 eggs), aim for 2–3 egg-based meals per week (around 7 eggs per week). While there’s technically no limit on the number of eggs you can eat if you don’t have heart disease or type 2 diabetes, it’s important to include a range of healthy proteins in your diet. 

Read more about proteins and heart health.

A bowl of chickpeas

Fill another quarter with wholegrain foods

Choose wholegrain and or high-fibre grain products like bread, cereal, rice, pasta, polenta, quinoa and oats.  

Amounts to include on your plate: 

  • 2 slices of bread (e.g., for breakfast choose wholegrain toast with avocado, or wholegrain bread with eggs and a side of cooked veg such as tomato, spinach, or mushrooms. For lunch try a wholegrain bread sandwich with salad (tomato, cucumber, carrot, lettuce) and cheese) 
  • ½ cup of cooked oats (e.g., porridge with fruit and nuts for breakfast) 
  • ½ cup of cooked pasta/other grains like brown rice or quinoa (other meals) 

Read more about the goodness of whole grains.

Different bowls of grains

Fill the remaining half with vegetables 

Choose from a variety of types and colours and eat seasonally when you can. Most people should eat five serves a day, so aim for around two serves per meal. Choose a variety of colours and types to maximise the health benefits (half a plate of potato doesn’t count!) 

Amounts to include on your plate (include two of the below with each meal):  

  • ½ cup of cooked vegetables and/or 1 cup of raw or salad vegetables  
  • ½ cup of sweetcorn or ½ medium potato, sweet potato, and other starchy vegetables  
  • ½ cup of cooked peas, beans or lentils.  

Read more about getting fruit and vegetables in your diet.

Plate of roasted carrots

Make sure the fats on your plate come from a heart-healthy source.  

Choose monounsaturated fats, found in foods like avocados, olive and plant-based cooking oils; and polyunsaturated fats (Omega-3 and Omega-6), found in foods such as fish, tahini and walnuts.  

Read more about the difference between good fats and bad fats.

Salmon with oil, avocado, nuts and seeds

Snack time: Don’t forget about fruit, dairy and nuts 

While fruit, dairy and nuts aren’t included in the dinner plate example, they’re also important components of a healthy eating plan. Eat them separately or in combination for a healthy snack in between meals.   

Fruit 

Fruit is packed full of fibre, vitamins and minerals, so as well as being tasty, it’s great for your heart, too. Most people should eat two serves of fruit a day. 

One serve is equivalent to: 

  • 1 medium apple, banana, orange or pear  
  • 2 small apricots, plums, kiwi fruit  
  • 1 cup of diced/canned fruit (no syrup)  
  • ½ cup (125ml) juice (drink only occasionally)  
  • 30g (small handful) of dried fruit (eat only occasionally).  
Rainbow fruit tray

Dairy 

The Australian Dietary Guidelines also recommend between 2–4 serves of dairy (such as milk, yoghurt and cheese) a day.  

One serve is equivalent to: 

  • 1 cup milk  
  • 200g (3/4 cup) yoghurt  
  • ½ cup of ricotta or cottage cheese  
  • 40g (2 slices) of hard cheese 

For more information on amounts of foods for your individual needs see the Australian Dietary Guidelines or speak with a dietitian.  

Person holding a glass of milk

Nuts 

Nuts are full of healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats and can be a fantastic snack or used to add crunch to a main meal or salad.  Aim for 30g (a small handful) of nuts like almonds, cashews, walnuts and pine nuts every day. Make sure you choose unsalted and either dry roasted or raw varieties.   

Tip: Try combining fruit, yoghurt AND nuts to create a satisfying and delicious snack that will keep you going in between meals. Simply add chop up your favourite fruit, add to unflavoured yoghurt, then top with a sprinkling of nuts.  

A handful of almonds

*Portion sizes and quantities recommended by the Heart Foundation are based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines 


Logo of Coles and Heart Foundation

Coles has partnered with the Heart Foundation to provide this content to you and help Australians live healthier and happier lives.

For personalised heart health information and support, contact the Heart Foundation Helpline 13 11 12.