The balance between the nutrients your body needs and the calories it consumes is an essential component of a healthy diet. A healthy diet should include various foods in different proportions to ensure a well-balanced intake. You need to balance proteins, carbohydrates and fats to keep your body healthy and function optimally. A balanced diet implies eating more than one type of food, which helps you achieve a feeling of satiety and also prevents overeating. Most diets are based on eating fewer, high-calorie foods that are often high in saturated fat and added sugars. A balanced diet is lower in calories with more fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources such as white fish and low-fat dairy, whole grains and legumes.
What is a balanced diet?
A balanced diet is one that provides the body with all the nutrients it needs through a variety of foods, including proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Eating a balanced diet helps you stay healthy, fit and mentally and physically active, and is especially important for women. If you consume more calories than your body needs, you will gain weight. The most important thing about a balanced diet is to consume the right number of calories – you can use an online calculator to do this – so that your weight does not increase too much or too little.
Proteins in a balanced diet
Proteins are essential for building muscle, tissue repair and immune system function, as well as for energy production. They also help with satiety, which is the sensation of being full, and can improve athletic performance. Proteins can be found in meat, fish, eggs, legumes and dairy products. Good sources of protein include seafood, such as fish and shrimp, low-fat dairy such as skim milk and yogurt, lean poultry, such as turkey and chicken, and beans.
Carbohydrates in a balanced diet
The human body needs energy to function, and the cells that need energy most – those in the brain and nervous system – need glucose as their primary fuel. Your body can use proteins and fats as fuel, but it cannot turn them into glucose. Therefore, your body uses carbohydrates as its primary energy source. You can get energy from a number of carbohydrates, but the ones with the highest amount of energy are sugars, such as fructose, glucose or sucrose. Sugars can be found in fruits and honey, as well as in grains, milk and other dairy products. Even vegetables such as cauliflower and carrots are high in sugar and should be consumed sparingly.
Fat in a balanced diet
Fat has been a topic of controversy among health experts and the public for many years. Fat is an important source of energy, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and fat is essential in the human diet. Healthy fats include essential fatty acids such as the omega-3 fatty acid found in fish, walnuts and flaxseeds and the omega-6 fatty acid found in sunflower seeds, avocados and olives. Certain fats, including omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, avocado and nuts, have been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Trans fats, found in some foods, are associated with adverse health effects.
Fruits and vegetables in a balanced diet
Fruits and vegetables are essential parts of a healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and water. They are also low in calories and contain little fat or sugar. In addition, they provide important antioxidants that protect your body against oxidative stress, inflammation and various diseases. Rich sources of vitamins include apricots, bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, mangoes, oranges and sweet potatoes, while green vegetables are a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as folic acid, which helps protect against heart disease and some forms of cancer. Potatoes, dark-green vegetables, tomatoes and carrots are good sources of minerals such as iron and potassium, which helps regulate your blood pressure and regulates metabolism.
Tips for eating a healthy, balanced diet
– Eat a variety of foods from each group, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean protein sources and healthy fats. – Aim for 2 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit daily. – Limit sugary foods, like cookies, cakes and pastries, and unhealthy fats, such as butter and oils used for frying, as well as alcohol and red meat. – Get enough protein from foods including fish, poultry, beans and eggs, and combine it with healthy carbohydrates. – Limit your intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, such as sweet tea and fruit juice, and white breads and pasta. – Maintain a healthy weight, and limit your alcohol intake.
Healthy, balanced diets are based on eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean protein such as fish, low-fat dairy and whole grains, as well as healthy fats. These foods are rich sources of vitamins, minerals and fibre, and also provide energy, which helps you feel satiated and energized. A healthy diet should also be low in fat and sugar and, for women, include adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables and balanced intake of protein, carbs and fats.