Food is any substance that is consumed by an organism to provide a source of nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins or minerals. It is an important component of life and is essential for good health.
Nutrition refers to the balance between the amount of nutrients in food and their biological utilization by an individual. This balance is determined by many factors such as care and feeding practices, food preparation, diversity of diet and intra-household distribution.
A healthy diet is a combination of the right types and amounts of foods from each of the 5 food groups, and can be achieved by making small changes to your eating habits. These changes can make a huge difference to your health, especially if they involve replacing saturated and trans fats with low-fat versions of these foods.
Eating the right foods helps you maintain a healthy weight and protects against chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. It can also help improve your energy levels, mood and concentration.
The main components of a balanced diet include vegetables, fruit, grains, dairy products, meat and poultry, beans and nuts. They are rich in fibre, antioxidants and vitamins C, E, K and B12 and contain a range of nutrients that contribute to good health.
There are many different types of vegetables, fruits and grains, but some of the most popular are: cabbage, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, peas, spinach and oats. These are a rich source of vitamin C and iron and have a high fibre content, which can reduce your risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
Vegetables, fruit and grains are all nutritious but each has a different nutrient profile, which is why it’s so important to choose the ones that will work best for you. Vegetables and fruits are a rich source of fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals, while grains are a good source of protein.
Eat more wholegrains and a range of different types of grain, such as quinoa, rice, barley, wheat, oats and millet. The fibre in these grains can be beneficial for your heart, digestion and blood pressure.
Add extra vegetables and legumes to your meals, and swap your fried or fatty foods for healthier alternatives such as baked beans, grilled salmon and brown rice. These foods are lower in saturated fat, and they will keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Serve your food in smaller portions to help you avoid over-eating and gaining too much weight. You can do this by choosing a starter instead of an entree, splitting a dish with a friend and not ordering super-sized dishes at restaurants.
The main ingredients of a balanced diet should be mainly plants, such as vegetables, fruits, grains and dairy products. Animal-based foods, such as meat, fish and eggs, are an important source of protein for most people, but they should be a small part of your diet, with the emphasis on the plant-based options.