Balanced Diet: Definition, Types, & Examples

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What is Balanced Diet?

A balanced diet can be defined as a diet including all the essential nutrients for the body. To stay healthy and active each body needs a particular amount of nutrients and calories. A balanced diet also includes avoiding junk food and food with low nutritional value. According to nutritionists, a balanced diet must include nutrients from five major groups of food.

A most recent recommendation describes a balanced diet which includes half of the human’s plate with fruits and vegetables and the rest of the plate should include grains and proteins. Thus, fruits and vegetables are considered as healthiest foods to eat. Moreover, a small proportion of dairy products with low-fat contents should be included in a balanced meal.

The right proportion of minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and water intake is considered a balanced diet. The energy stored in food is represented by Calories. This energy is used to perform various activities such as thinking, walking, moving, breathing, etc.

A person needs about 2000 calories per day to perform all activities and maintain their weight. The requirement also depends upon the sex, age, and level of physical activity. Some foods such as energy drinks, soda, cookies, fries, and chips provide a large number of calories but do not have good nutritional value, they are called empty calories.

Consumption of these food items should be limited to main a healthy life. In conclusion, a healthy diet includes fruits, vegetables, starchy food, dairy products, or other proteins and fluids. Foods with added sugar, foods with high salt content, and saturated fats should be avoided to get different nutrients.

Importance of Balanced Diet

Our body gets essential nutrients from a balanced diet that allows it to perform various activities. Deficiency of nutrition can cause fatigue, infections, diseases, and reduced activity. In children, a balanced diet is also important for proper growth and development, and to avoid infections. Overweight children have higher chances to develop diseases such as type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

A balanced diet also prevents various non-communicable diseases such as heart attack, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. In the United States, these diseases are the most common leading causes of death. The global health risks also include a lack of physical activities and an unbalanced diet.

The intake of saturated fats, calories should be minimized to avoid weight gain, which eventually results in increased blood pressure, chances of stroke, and heart attack. Consuming a large number of sugar results in tooth decay and obesity whereas a large amount of sugar causes high blood pressure.

Balanced Diet Examples

All the nutritional requirements should be included in a balanced diet. We get this nutrition from fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy products that provide us calories for proper body functioning. However, consumption of extra calories will also cause unhealthy weight gain because it is stored in the body as fats.

A person should intake less than 30% of the total intake of energy. Nuts, sunflower, fish, olive oils, avocado, and soya bean are some sources of unsaturated fats, whereas saturated fats are found in coconut oil, butter, fatty meat, and cheese. All pre-packed snacks such as biscuits, fried foods, cookies, pies, and pizza include trans-fats, their consumption should be avoided.

The body gets different nutrients from different food groups, therefore all five food groups should be included in the food. The absence of any food group will negatively affect the body. For example- starchy carbohydrates decrease the intake of vitamin B and dietary fibers.

i. Vegetables

The body gets essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants from vegetables. A variety of vegetables such as orange, red vegetables, peas, beans, leafy vegetables, potatoes, and other vegetables should be consumed to get enough daily nutrition. Vegetables may be eaten as raw or cooked food. Side dish, soup base, salad, or juices can be prepared using these vegetables.

ii. Fruits

Fruits are an essential part of a balanced diet. They can be consumed as dessert or snacks because they are rich in natural sugars. The body gets a variety of essential vitamins and antioxidants from fruits and vegetables. Instead of drinking fruit juice, it is recommended to eat whole fruit because the juice contains added sugar and lacks fibers. Moreover, fresh and local fruits provide more nutrients as compare to frozen fruits.

iii. Grains

Grains are classified into two types: whole and refined grains. The endosperm, germ, and bran of the grain are included in the whole grains. As compare to the refined grains, whole grains contain more proteins and fibers. Spikes in blood sugar may cause by refined grains because they do not contain the natural components.

About a quarter of the plate should include grains in a balanced diet. Whole grains such as oats, barley, wholewheat pasta, and brown rice should be consumed to maintain health. Many foods such as bread, and baked foods include refined grains.

iv. Protein

In a balanced diet, dietary proteins are an essential part. About a quarter of the plate should include proteins. The major functions of proteins include maintaining muscle mass, development of muscles, growth, wound healing, etc. Animal meats such as red meats, beef, turkey, chicken, and fish are good sources of proteins.

Instead of processed meat, unprocessed meat is much healthier because it does not contain preservatives. Some plants are also a good source of proteins such as legumes, nuts, and soy products, etc. Other essential nutrients such as zinc, iron, vitamin 12, and other vitamins are also obtained from meat. To avoid any source of contamination, meats should be cooked properly.

v. Diary

To maintain healthy bones, dairy products are very important because they are the main source of calcium. However, low-fat dairy products such as yogurt, low-fat milk, soy milk, and cottage cheese are recommended. Lactose-intolerant people can get calcium from soy-based products or lactose-free products. Dairy products are also a good source of a variety of nutrients such as vitamin D, proteins, and calcium.

Losing Weight

A person can reduce weight by a balanced diet and regular exercise. Excess weight can be reduced by increasing protein intake, increasing minerals, vitamins. Fiber and by decreasing excessive carbohydrates, trans-fats, and added salts and sugars. Some methods for weight loss include walking for 30 minutes, taking the stairs, and doing cardio exercise.

A food containing adequate amounts of essential nutrients is defined as healthy food, which is recommended for efficient functioning. Food that is rich in proteins such as salmon, eggs, or green vegetables is considered the best food for weight loss.

Healthy food also provides good nutrition. Vegetables, fruits, grains, proteins, and dairy products are part of healthy meals whereas added sugar and salt, high-fat content is considered unhealthy meals.

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