Food is an essential part of our daily lives, as it provides energy for activities and important nutrients, such as protein, vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. Good diets are balanced and varied to provide the right amounts of these nutrients. The most important foods are fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, fish and dairy products. They contain the essential nutrients – carbohydrates, proteins, fats and vitamins and minerals.
Foods from the different Food Groups are all needed by our bodies, and we should eat a variety of them to ensure that we get all the nutrients we need. It is also important to choose foods that are nutrient-rich, that are low in saturated fats and high in fibre.
Vegetables and Fruit (Plain Foods)
This group includes vegetables, beans, peas, nuts, seeds, and fruits that grow on trees, such as apricots, cherries, grapefruits, figs and mangoes. These are rich in many micronutrients, such as vitamin C, iron and dietary fibre. They are also important sources of potassium and magnesium.
They should make up less than one-quarter of the foods on your plate. This helps you to stay healthy and reduce your risk of obesity.
Vegetables are a key source of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fibre, as well as being low in fat and sodium. They are especially good for lowering cholesterol, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.
Beans and peas are a good source of fiber, which can prevent stomach problems and keep you feeling fuller for longer. They are also a good source of many nutrients, including iron, calcium, potassium and vitamin E.
Grains and grain products, such as breads, cereals and potatoes, are a rich source of starch (for energy). They may also supply protein, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, B vitamins and dietary fibre.
They also contain some essential fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which help to protect our heart. Other foods that are high in fats include cheese, butter and lard.
Milk and other dairy foods are a good source of protein, calcium, vitamin D and phosphorus. They are also good for reducing the risk of osteoporosis, and they can help to lower blood pressure.
Meats, Poultry and Eggs are another major group of protein-rich foods. They are high in protein, but they should only make up a little more than a quarter of the foods on your plate. They are also a good source of dietary fibre and some other essential micronutrients, such as vitamin A and E.
Legumes and Oilseeds are also a good source of protein, some micronutrients and dietary fibre. They contain a range of essential fats, such as monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids.
It is also important to avoid excessive salt and sugar intake. These are the main components of the ’empty calories’ that can be found in some fast foods and other processed foods. Choosing healthier foods that are a good source of protein, calcium, iron, and other nutrients can help to prevent weight gain and obesity.