Diet is one of the most important components of a healthy lifestyle. A poor diet can contribute to several illnesses including heart disease, malnutrition, obesity and diabetes.

A good diet

A good diet should be well-balanced; this means it should include foods from all different food groups. The key to having a healthy diet is not cutting out popular fatty foods; the balance of a diet is much more important; this can be achieved by eating fatty or sugary foods which are not so healthy in moderation and eating plenty of foods which are high in fibre, vitamins and minerals.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates should form the basis of your diet and make up about a third of your daily intake of calories; complex carbohydrates such as pasta, bread and rice release energy slowly and should keep you going for long periods of time. Simple carbohydrates are commonly high in sugars and should be limited; these carbohydrates include biscuits, sweets and cakes. Cutting out the foods you like can be detrimental as it can cause cravings which may lead to binge eating; it is better instead to limit the amount of sweet foods. Whole grain carbohydrates are better for you as they contain higher fibre content and are beneficial for the heart; usually whole grains are found in brown bread, brown rice and wholegrain pasta.

Fruit and Vegetables

Government initiatives and nutritionists recommend that you should eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables each day; this can include soups, sauces juices and smoothies as well as solid fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables contain fibre, iron and several different types of nutrients, vitamins and minerals; these help to boost the immune system and fight against illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and obesity. It is advisable to try and eat an array of different vegetables and fruits as this will ensure a range of different minerals and vitamins.

Proteins

Proteins are essential for building muscle tissue and repairing cells. Protein-rich foods include meat, eggs, fish and pulses. Proteins should make up roughly 10-15% of your daily calorie intake.

Dairy products

Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt contain high levels of calcium which is important for the growth and strengthening of teeth, bones and nails. Most dairy products are high in fat and should be moderated; it is recommended that you try to choose reduced fat versions of dairy products.

Fats

Despite the negative connotations associated with fats, they are an integral part of the human diet. Unsaturated fats, such as those found in oily fish and nuts can be beneficial as it helps to transport vitamins and minerals around the body and provides a source of Omega 3. Saturated and trans fats should be moderated as they can contribute to heart disease, obesity and diabetes; these fats are commonly found in cakes, pastries and animal derivatives such as whole milk and cheese. Women should generally not consume over 70 grams of fat per day, while a man’s intake should not exceed 95 grams. Nowadays, there are several low fat options available in supermarkets to help you reduce your fat intake.