A balanced diet includes fruits, vegetables and protein-rich foods while being low in fats, sodium and sugars. Furthermore, an appropriate balance is achieved through adequate calcium, iron and zinc intake.
Begin your meal by filling half your plate with nonstarchy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and squash. Consider plant-based dairy products enriched with calcium and vitamin D while limiting added sugars.
Fruits & Vegetables
A balanced diet should include fruits and vegetables, low-fat or skim milk products, whole grain carbohydrates instead of refined ones, lean meats and beans, nuts and seeds containing healthy fats such as olives. In addition, your food selection should provide adequate water intake.
Fruits and vegetables provide many essential vitamins, minerals, plant chemicals and fibre. A high intake of fruit and vegetables has been associated with protection from certain diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Consume a range of colourful fruits and vegetables, such as dark green leafy veggies, yellow or orange vegetables, and red fruits. Reducing fruit juice consumption to about five servings daily. Canned fruits should not have added sugar; drain away their canning liquid before selecting them without added sweeteners or canning liquid. Aim for five daily servings!
TikTok users who scrolled their “For You” pages are likely to have come across people making claims that dairy consumption is inflammatory and that reducing or eliminating it would result in better hormone balance, clearer skin and reduced disease risks. Such claims stem from milk and dairy products’ high content of saturated fat – known to increase inflammation. But the role of saturated fat is complex as there are other nutrients present like calcium, magnesium, selenium vitamin B12 pantothenic acid that support healthy bones as well.
Nutritionists advise ensuring half your plate consists of vegetables and fruits, while the other half should consist of proteins and grains for optimal health. Aiming for this balance ensures you’re receiving a variety of essential vitamins and minerals every day is key to good wellbeing, and nutritionists suggest including milk, yoghurt and cheese (especially reduced-fat options) daily as part of a balanced diet for muscle health – milk yoghurt provides all essential amino acids essential to muscles.
Meat & Poultry
Meat and poultry are rich sources of protein for our bodies, as well as high-quality animal fat, essential amino acids, vitamin B6, niacin and iron.
Epidemiological studies conducted worldwide across populations with differing food preferences and nutritional habits have demonstrated that eating meat (including poultry) combined with a vegetable-rich diet is associated with reduced cardiovascular diseases, overweightness, type 2 diabetes mellitus as well as lower cancer risks.
If you do eat meat, opt for lean cuts of organic or free-range meat for more sustainable eating habits. Remember that producing meat requires significant water consumption and energy expenditure – try to limit your intake! If you prefer vegetarianism instead of meat-eating, be sure to include seafood into your diet; they are an excellent source of disease-fighting omega-3 fatty acids while being high in vitamins and minerals – salmon, trout, and sardines can especially benefit heart health.
Grains can be an essential component of a nutritious diet, yet their role varies based on age, gender, activity level and medical conditions. There are two main categories of grains – whole and refined grains. Whole grains retain all their original components like the hull, bran and germ while refined grains have all of these parts removed leaving only endosperm remaining.
The 2020 Dietary Guidelines recommend consuming at least half your grain intake from whole grain foods, as studies have linked whole grains with lower risks and improved health outcomes, including decreased incidences of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Refined grains on the other hand have been linked with weight gain and elevated blood sugar levels; additionally they contain antinutrients like phytic acid or lectins which obstruct digestion or absorption (14) (35). Therefore it’s recommended that grains are either soaked, sprouted, or fermented so as to break down these antinutrients (14)(35). (14)(35). (14)(35). (14) (35)