Food is a major part of human life. It is necessary for survival and has played a vital role in the development of many societies. It can be prepared in different ways and provides nutrients to our body.
A balanced diet is a combination of all the food items that have the necessary nutritional value. It is important to include foods that supply carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals in the right proportion so that they are beneficial for our health.
Carbohydrates – These are the main sources of energy in our body and should account for 40-60% of our diet. They are found in vegetables, fruits, milk and dairy products, grains and breads. They are also a good source of calcium, vitamin D and magnesium.
Proteins – These are the building blocks of muscle and other tissues in our body and should account for 15-25% of our diet. They are found in meat, fish, poultry and eggs. They are also a good source of iron and zinc.
Vegetables – This group includes green, red and yellow vegetables, which are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They can be cooked, eaten raw or used as a topping for meals. Vegetables that are high in fibre, such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, have a lower calorie content than their less fibrous counterparts and should be included in your daily diet.
Fruit – This is a great source of antioxidants, minerals and fibre. It is available in fresh, frozen and dried forms. It is a good choice for breakfast as well.
Leafy greens – Dark, leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale and arugula are a good choice for a healthy diet. These vegetables are high in folic acid, which can prevent birth defects and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Nuts – Almonds are another good source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. They are also high in monounsaturated fats which can help to lower cholesterol levels and protect against inflammation of our arteries.
Whole grains – Whole grain bread, pasta, rice and cereals are a good source of fibre, nutrients and vitamins. They are low in salt and sugar. They can be a good addition to soups, stews and casseroles.
Meat – Lamb, beef, pork, poultry and rabbit are all good sources of protein. They are a mainstay of many cultures around the world and can be easily prepared in many ways. They are also a good source of phosphorus, potassium and selenium.
Dairy – Milk, cheese and yogurt are also good sources of proteins, fats and vitamins. They are a staple in many Asian, African and South American cultures.
Other foods that are rich in protein but low in calories and fats include seafood, lentils, nuts and seeds. They are also good sources of fiber and potassium.