Eating a balanced diet is the key for maintaining good health. A balanced diet is the diet that contains foods from different group in certain proportion to provide the required nutrients for the body to function properly. In this blog I am gonna give guidelines on how to consume a balanced diet and also a sample diet chart.
Food is the one that we consume everyday right from our birth to death. So it is essential for everyone to know why we need food and how to choose our food?
Food gives us the energy and nutrients to grow, develop, be healthy and active, to move, work, play, think and learn. The body needs variety of nutrients – carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals from the food we eat to stay healthy and productive. Food which provide similar nutrients are clubbed together as a group called as food group.
Based upon the nutrient that a food provides it is grouped into 5 and they are as follows.
- Cereals and grains
- Milk and milk products
Cereals and grains
Cereals/grains are the main source of energy. The dominant nutrient present in this group is carbohydrates. Grains can be whole grains and refined grains. It is always better to consume whole grains as they contain fibre and are nutritious. But whereas in refined grains the outer layer which contains fibre and nutrients is removed. Hence much of the fibre and nutrients get removed.
For example, brown rice which is a whole grain has more amount of fibre, magnesium, selenium and manganese than the refined white rice.
Examples for cereals and grains are – rice, wheat, bread, noodles, pasta, oats, poha, maida, semolina, vermicelli, millets like ragi, Bajra, horse gram, corn, pearl millet, finger millet, etc
Protein are the building blocks of life. It is important for growth and development.Every cells, tissues and organs in our body are made up of protein. Protein provides the nutrients for muscles, organ, skin, hair and nails. Enzymes and hormomes also consists of protein. Our immune system functions properly only if there is sufficient amount of protein.
The sources of protein are pulses and legumes like green gram Dal, Bengal gram Dal, red gram Dal, cow pea, Channa, kidney beans, peas, south beans, etc, egg, meat like chicken, mutton, crab, prawn, beef, pork, fish and nuts like almond, cashew nut, walnut, etc and seeds like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.
Vegetables are the main source of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Apart from providing nutrients, vegetables also provide us therapeutic benefits because of the presence of fibre, phytochemicals, antioxidants, anticancer agents, etc. Hence consuming a diet rich in variety of vegetable may reduce the risk of developing obesity, heart disease, certain type of cancers and type 2 diabetes.
Vegetables are of different categories like dark green, red and orange, starchy and other vegetables.
Dark green vegetables include green leafy vegetables, and provide vitamin A, C, folate, potassium, magnesium and calcium.
Red and orange vegetables- these include pumpkin, carrot, tomatoes, bell peppers, etc. These are the good source of vitamin A.
Starchy vegeatables have higher carbohydrates than other categories of vegetables.
Other vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, green beans, celery, cucumber, tomato, onioun, okra and zucchini. They are all good sources of fibre and have multi vitamin and minerals in it.
Do You Know?
Since each category of vegetables give different nutrients and health benefits, it is important to consume different colors of vegetables everyday.
Fruits are abundant in vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. low in calories and high in fibre. Vitamins present generally in fruits are C, E and red/orange fruits contain vitamin A in it. Fruits are also good sources of potassium and magnesium and thus consuming fruits help to reduce blood pressure.
Fruits are low in calories and rich in fibre. Consuming fibre rich foods prevents us from developing obesity. Phytochemicals present in fruits reduce the risk of developing certain type of cancer.
Milk and milk products
Milk and milk products like curd, cheese, butter, ghee, etc provide us all the nutrients like protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins and minerals. Milk is the excellent source of calcium, the mineral which is important for the strength of bone and teeth. It also has other minerals like sodium, potassium and phosphorus. Milk has significant amount of vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin, nicotinic acid and vitamin B12.
Now we knew that there are 5 food groups and each group provides specific nutrients. Each nutrient has its own function in our body and it cannot be replaced by other nutrient. So for being healthy it is necessary to get all these nutrients. To get all these nutrients our food plate must include all the 5 food groups in our diet and this is called as balanced diet.
Sample diet chat for a balanced meal
To live a healthy life it is important to eat foods from all the 5 groups. Fruits and vegetables should be 50% of our plate and among the remaining 50% 25% should be from cereals and 25% should be from protein. 10 servings of fruits and vegetables has to be included everyday. Vegetables from various categories and seasonal fruit has to be included to get multiple vitamins and minerals. 2-3 servings of milk and milk products has to taken everyday.
Eat healthy to live healthy!!!!