Eating a Balanced Diet

Eating a Balanced Diet

Your body needs a regular, well-balanced supply of nutrients to be healthy. Many nutrients can only be supplied by the food you eat. Getting the balance right has enor­mous benefits. A healthy diet reduces the risk of problems such as heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.

A balanced diet ideally should include foods from the four basic food groups. These comprise a foundation diet. A fifth group provides additional calories but fewer nutri­ents.

Although individual nutritional requirements vary, all of us have a continual need for nutrients from each group - for energy, growth, replacement, and maintenance of body tissue.

1. Fruits and Vegetables - High in nutrients (and many low in calories), these provide vitamins - particularly A, C and E, minerals, and fiber.

2. Breads, Cereals and Other Grains - These foods are rich in energy - giving carbohy­drates, B vitamins and selenium, and contain calcium and iron.

3. Milk and Dairy Foods - Milk, yoghurt and cheese are all good sources of calcium and also provide protein.

4. Poultry, Fish, Meat, Eggs, Legumes, Nuts and Seeds - Foods in this group are our main source of protein, which is essential for most of the body's vital functions, including the growth, maintenance and repair of cells.

5. Fats and Sweets - These foods are our most concentrated source of calorie in our diet, providing twice as much energy as carbohydrates or protein.

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