The most important requirement for a healthy living is a balanced diet. A balanced diet should contain adequate amount of all the necessary nutrients required by our body for healthy growth and daily activities.
A balanced diet must contain carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins, mineral salts and fibre in the correct proportions.
A well-balanced diet includes a variety of foods from the five main food groups which include:
1. bread, cereal and potatoes (starchy foods),
2. fruit (including fresh fruit juice) and vegetables,
3. meat and fish,
4. milk and dairy foods,
5. fat and sugar.
The first two groups should be around one-third each and the last three to be in the remaining one-third part of our diet.
In adition to the above foods we should also take enough quantity of water for proper functioning of our body and to avoid dehydration.
It is very important to know what are the recommended levels of the nutrients in our balanced diet.
Eating lots of fruit and vegetables will lead to the health of your heart and body.
Fruit and vegetables contain lots of vitamins and minerals, they are low in calories and high in fibre. Fruits and vegetables contain the nutrients and compounds which can help us to protect against cancer, obesity and various chronic diseases such as heart disease.
The main source of energy for our body is starchy carbohydrates.which are found in bread, rice, potatoes, cereals etc. Unrefined (wholegrain)carbohydrates should be preferred as compared to refined ones as they are rich in fiber and other nutrients which have help in reducing the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Milk and dairy foods are the source of calcium which is required for the development of healthy bones and teeth.
Protein is a major component of the all the cells of our body and required for cell growth and repair. Main sources of Protein are meat, fish and poultry.
Fat and sugar should be consumed in very small quantity. Saturated fats (cheese, butter, cake etc) lead to high risk of heart disease as they increase the level of bad cholesterol whereas unsaturated fats (nuts, seeds, avocado, vegetable oils etc) are the sources of good cholesterol. We should reduce the consumption of added sugar in the form of sweets, cakes, biscuits and some drinks. The World Health Organization recommends that the limit of intake of added sugars should not be more than 10% of our calories. High amount of sugar and fats also lead to high risk of obesity.
The balanced diet should be planned at the required calorie level and serving size in relation to the life style of a person. We can get the most nutrients for the calories by selecting the food with a high-nutrient density.