How should foods be classified into food groups?

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The ten food groups “counted” in the Minimum Dietary Diversity for Women of Reproductive Age indicator are:

  1. Grains, white roots and tubers, and plantains
  2. Pulses (beans, peas and lentils)
  3. Nuts and seeds
  4. Dairy
  5. Meat, poultry and fish
  6. Eggs
  7. Dark green leafy vegetables
  8. Other vitamin A-rich fruits and vegetables
  9. Other vegetables
  10. Other fruits

Many foods are easily classified into the correct group, but other foods present classification challenges. In general, classifications follow culinary and not botanical definitions (e.g. tomatoes are classified with vegetables and not with fruits). Minimum Dietary Diversity for Women – A guide to measurement provides detailed descriptions for each of the ten groups in Section 2. Appendix 2 provides lists of items that can be classified into each group. Appendix 2 also provides a table explaining the rationale for several challenging classifications.

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