Food is the source of nutrients, energy, and a number of other important nutrients that keep the body healthy and functioning. It contains protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water.
The right foods help us to be healthy and fit, reduce our risk of heart disease and diabetes, and maintain a good mood. Nutrient-rich diets are also known to promote a good night’s sleep and increase our ability to concentrate.
There are many different types of food, all with their own unique flavours and textures. Each has a unique set of nutritional benefits.
Cereal grains, fruit, vegetables, legumes, meat, poultry, fish and dairy products contain essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. A balanced diet should include a variety of these food types, but it’s especially important to choose the right ones for you.
A nutritious, balanced diet should include a variety of foods that are low in saturated fat, high in fibre and provide plenty of vitamins and minerals. It should also include lots of fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and wholegrains.
Some of these foods are more expensive than others, so make sure you budget for them carefully and don’t go overboard. Keeping a stock of tinned or dried vegetables and herbs, pasta, bread, canned beans and tomatoes, and a small amount of cheese in your kitchen will mean that you don’t have to buy them too often.
Cut down on the fat content of your diet by choosing low-fat milk and yogurt, replacing fatty sauces with lower-fat alternatives, and choosing lean meat and fish instead of fatty cuts. This will help you to feel fuller for longer and save you money on your grocery bills.
Limit the amount of salt you eat. Salt can increase blood pressure and heart rate, and it’s also an irritant to your digestive system. It can also cause you to become dehydrated, which can lead to serious problems like kidney failure and even death.
Ensure you are getting enough fruit and vegetables every day, and choose varieties that have a wide range of colours, flavours and textures. These will help you to get more of the vitamins and minerals you need, which will also help keep your immune system strong.
Avoid processed foods and foods that are high in sugar, salt, and fat. Processed foods are often tastier, but they’re usually high in calories and less nutritious than their natural counterparts.
Be conscious of portion sizes when eating out and at home, and if you have a choice between two dishes, pick the smaller one. At home, try to use smaller plates, bowls and utensils, so you’re not forced to eat more than you should.
A balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats is the key to a healthy diet. Carbohydrates give your brain the energy it needs to function and to maintain your muscles. The best sources of carbohydrate are fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, and low-fat dairy.
Meat, fish, and chicken are all great sources of protein. However, a balanced diet should also include some other foods that supply amino acids (the building blocks of protein), such as eggs, beans, and nuts. A diet rich in proteins will also provide other micronutrients that are necessary for the health of your bones, brain, and heart.