—A method of grouping similar foods for descriptive and guidance purposes. Food groups in the USDA Food Patterns are defined as vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, and protein foods. Some of these groups are divided into subgroups, such as dark-green vegetables or whole grains, which may have intake goals or limits. Foods are grouped within food groups based on their similarity in nutritional composition and other dietary benefits. For assignment to food groups, mixed dishes are disaggregated into their major component parts.