Overview On A Balanced Diet
A balanced diet is one that contains adequate and sufficient amounts of all the necessary nutrients which are required for health growth and activity (metabolism). It also contains plenty of fibre and an assortment of nutrients for continued good health.
The nutrients come in the form of food which should also provide the appropriate amount of energy and sufficient amounts of water. In general, a balanced diet is one which is both adequate and wholesome and a very important element of a healthy lifestyle.
Following a balanced diet means we can maintain a healthy and sensible body weight. Of course no food will provide all the nutrients we need so we must consume a wide variety of foods containing carbohydrates, vitamins, fat, proteins and minerals to provide that range of nutrients. The other useful expression that serves to define how much we need of vitamins and minerals is the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA).
If we have a poor diet the consequences include:-
- poor growth
- poor structural development
- prone to infections and disease,
- poor physical and mental health
Too much nutrition, in other words being overfed also has consequences. these include:-
- weight gain
- development of metabolic diseases
- cardiovascular (heart) disease
- diet related conditions including Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).
The objectives of a balanced and healthy diet are many fold. One of the main goals is to achieve a healthy weight with a suitable energy balance. It often means the removal of trans fatty acids and also saturated fats from the diet. However fat is an integral part of a diet so unsaturated fatty acids are an important addition. The intakes of simple sugars such as sucrose, glucose and fructose needs to be restricted. However there is advantage in a large consumption of fruit and vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains. In some countries it is possible to take iodized salt which provides iodine although we should ensure our intake of sodium is as little as possible according to American Heart Association guidelines.
What Are The Other Key Nutrients For A Balanced Diet ?
The essential amino acids and proteins are a key part of the diet. Try to avoid consumption of food ingredients which are carcinogens although this should not apply to artificial preservatives of colours because they have functional benefits in food. Food should also be safe and be free of human pathogens. Try to limit the intake of alcohol and to a certain extent caffeine. Last but not least, hydration is critical so drink plenty of water
Following A Healthy Balanced Diet Plan.
A diet plan is not just about avoiding consumption of fats and carbohydrates (carbs) because that isn’t necessarily a balanced diet. Carbohydrates, fats and proteins are all needed to provide energy and and provide building blocks of a host of activities. People who strive towards weight loss goals need to limit rather than cut out altogether these nutrients. A balanced diet is basically a combination of whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, dairy and grains.
Vegetables And Pulses
The vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals. Pulses which are mainly beans, pea and other legumes are good sources of protein and mono unsaturated fatty acids. To make these foods more palatable it is probably best to cook or boil vegetables to provide a portion or two on a daily basis.
Typical vegetables for a diet include avocado, cabbage, broccoli, lentils, peas, beans, spinach, carrots etc.
The fruits are great sources of many vitamins and minerals. We know citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C. Fruits is ideal for breakfast and they are good sources of carbohydrates and fiber.
Typical fruits for inclusion in the diet are apples, pears, oranges, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, banana (not strictly a fruit !) tomatoes etc.
The dairy foods are good sources of protein and unsaturated fatty acids. They are an exceptional source of calcium which is needed for the development of bones and teeth.
Typical source include milk, eggs, cholesterol free butter, cottage cheese, yogurt, tofu, smoothies etc.
Grains And Cereals
Cereals offer us plenty of carbohydrates, proteins, fibre and minerals as well as various vitamins. The pulses and grains are good sources of protein and fatty acids whilst whole grains contain minerals like iron, selenium, magnesium and phosphorous which are cofactors needed for the proper functioning of enzymes involved in metabolism and body building.
Good examples of cereals and grains include wheat, breads, brown rice, oatmeal, pasta, corn.
Other Great Sources
Lean meats such as chicken and oily fish are also extremely beneficial. Nuts are great sources of omega-3 essential fatty acids which are a vital material for proper cell production.
Look out for walnuts, almonds, peanuts, lean chicken, lean beef, tuna and salmon.
The UK’s NHS offers some valuable guidelines on its web-site concerning healthy eating.