Six Caribbean Food Groups

The Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI) promotes the six food groups for a balanced and healthy Caribbean diet. The are staples, foods from animals, legumes, vegetables, fruits and fats & oils. Click here to see an overview of the food groups by the CFNI.

What Are the Main Food Groups?

Contrary to popular belief and practice, nutrition in the Caribbean is not governed by the food pyramid but by the 'wheel' or 'plate'. In our region there are six food groups: 
• Staples e.g. rice, ground provisions, starchy fruits (green bananas, breadfruit, plantains), pasta, corn, crackers, flour and flour products (bread, roti, bake, cake, cookies), cereals (oats, cream of wheat, sago, cornflakes) 
• Dark Green, Leafy and Yellow Vegetables e.g. spinach, cucumbers, broccoli, tomatoes, carailli, ochro, cabbage, lettuce, cauliflower, bodi, carrots, pumpkin, squash 
• Fruits e.g. oranges, paw paw, apple, banana, sapodilla, caimite, grapes, watermelon, sugar apple, plums, W.I. cherries, mango, passion fruit juice, fruit cocktail 
• Food from animals e.g. milk, cheese, yogurt, sausages, eggs, poultry (chicken and turkey), seafood (fish, crab, shrimp, lobster), meat (pork, beef, lamb, goat, duck) 
• Legumes e.g. nuts, peas and beans 
• Fat and oils e.g. margarine, butter, ghee, oil, coconut milk, avocado, salad dressing, mayonnaise dressing 

To maintain healthy eating habits and to have a balanced diet, it is important to utilise these food groups with special emphasis on the healthier options within each group. The daily intake of food for all humans should be proportionately represented as in the plate, with the largest percentage from the staples group and the smallest amount from the fats and oils group. A balanced diet is one comprising foods from all the six food groups in adequate quantities to provide all essential nutrients.


  1. where would you place coffee on the plate?

    1. On the plate, coffee would be an accompanying beverage. It would not count toward your food group intake. Depending on how it is prepared coffee is treated as a miscellaneous food item.

    2. Isn't coffee obtained from the cocoa bean- isn't it then a legume?

  2. Are wheat, oats, apples, grapes and such really necessary for a healthy Caribbean diet? None of these are grown locally in Trinidad and Tobago or the Caribbean on any commercial that I know of. These are imported and raises issues about rising food prices and economic sustainability. Are we even questioning the source of these foods and whether they have been grown with heavy chemical fertiliser and pesticide input? Or from GMO seeds? Are we even questioning the nutrient density of these foods? Bottom do we really need them for our health? If so can we source them more sustainably for the region? Food for thought.

  3. How much exactly is a serving? Is it a tablespoon or a cup?