Your body needs a balanced diet for it to thrive, and we don’t mean a cheeseburger in both hands. We’re talking about the five food groups that supply the body with calories and vital minerals.
We explore what constitutes a nourishing, balanced diet over the five food groups below.
What are the five food groups?
A healthy diet comprises of the following types of food:
Each of these foods plays a critical role in your body, from promoting cell growth to increasing metabolism. A balanced diet also means an improved body and mind, and a greater quality of life.
Edible plants are a vital source of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. From cruciferous veggies to lush greens, these plants are a healthy gift from Mother Nature to us.
Vegetables are rich in fiber, B-vitamins, and minerals that have a significant impact on your health. The beauty of these plants is that the more you eat, the better it is for you, so you don’t have to limit yourself like you would with processed or sugary ingredients.
Several studies have linked increased vegetable intake to a decreased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other lifestyle-related conditions. By taking regular servings, you’re likely to feel happier and more satisfied. You’ll also have the better hand-eye coordination to enjoy every SA Gaming experience to the maximum.
For a range of nutrients, eat vegetables with different colors. These nutritious foods contain water and fiber, so vegetables are essential for hydration and digestion while providing food for your body’s vital bacteria.
The only thing you should avoid is deep-fried or crumbed vegetables, which turn into a conduit for refined carbohydrates and saturated fat.
A variety of vegetables are available to enhance your meals with nutritious flavor—leafy greens, such as kale, green beans, broccoli, spinach, and swiss chard have many nutrients. It is also affordable and easy to prepare as salad, juices or smoothies, fried in a tray with olive oil, or added as a side dish.
Vegetables also form a healthy base for stews, pasta, and soup dishes.
Proteins aren’t just the building blocks of life—these substances are involved in different metabolic interactions and activities within the body. Cells and tissue in the human body contain protein, which also happens to be the base structure of amino acids. Protein in your diet generates new cells, repairs damaged ones, promotes muscle development, and accelerates healing.
Children, teenagers, and pregnant women need protein the most, but all human bodies benefit from the right amount and type of protein in their diets.
Did you know that protein supplies your body with 10-15% of its dietary energy? It’s the second-most abundant compound in the human body after water. Muscle takes the lion’s share with 43%, followed by the skin (our largest organ) and the blood.
Your body needs at least 0.8g of protein per kilogram of body weight in a day, but this is also age-dependent.
Beef, poultry, and fish are rich animal proteins containing the full range of amino acids required by the body. Vegetarians get amino acids and other nutrients from grains, such as beans, pulses, soy products, and nuts.
You should avoid processed meats as a source of protein, however. These ingredients tend to contain a lot of salt and added preservatives, which is carcinogenic and can cause many other diseases.
The fruit is a tasty snack, but it is also rich in fiber, vitamins, and other nutrients that nourish your body. Low in calories, a fruit diet detoxifies the body and generally helps you lose weight. Eating fruit is also known to lower the risk of hypertension, inflammation, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
If you have any chronic condition or are overweight, ask your doctor or dietitian for recommendations on how much to eat. The sugar content in some fruit may derail your dietary goals.
Fruits are rich in natural sugars, which make it a healthy and safer alternative to sweet treats. You’re likely to experience a spike in sugar levels whenever you eat fruit, and you can eat yours raw or prepare a tasty dessert.
Oranges, melons, passion fruit, berries, avocados, and rhubarb are exceptionally healthy as an alternative to sugary treats or candy. It is rich in vitamin C and fiber, immensely filling, and contains an impressive water content.
Citrus fruit keeps the gums and teeth healthy while supplying your body with vitamin C to boost your immune system.
When shopping, it’s always a better idea to buy local fruits as these are fresher, and richer in nutrients than imported options.
Cereal grains are small, tough, and edible seeds that grow on plants. It is a staple in many homes and the largest source of food energy worldwide. Rice, wheat, and corn are the most popular grains.
For those with gluten sensitivity, buckwheat, amaranth, and oatmeal are an acceptable alternative.
You can incorporate grains into your diet in various ways. For instance, you can add cereals to vegetable soups, make cooked porridge, sprinkle toasted buckwheat or yogurt, or make polenta from cornmeal, or bake using wheat pastry flour.
Whole grains are superior to any other type. These are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein, and antioxidants.
Heart-heathy diets should include whole grains as just one ounce can reduce the risk of heart disease by 22%. Grains also reduce hypertension and the risk of diabetes. Health authorities recommend that men eat six to eight servings of grains daily while women should eat at five to six servings.
A dairy diet that includes products like whole milk is rich in calcium, the main mineral in bones. It also contains Vitamin D, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, and riboflavin, with fatty acids, protein, and carbohydrates.
With dairy, you get a bit of everything that the body needs. The healthiest dairy comes from grass-fed cattle—the milk has a higher nutrient profile, including fat-soluble vitamins and fatty acids.
Fermented dairy products such as yogurt are rich in probiotic bacteria that promote a healthy digestive system. If you’re intolerant to dairy from cows, try goat’s milk. If you’re following a vegan diet, dairy alternatives include soy, oats, coconut, almonds, and flaxseed.
A balanced diet not only fulfills your nutritional needs but also promotes good health and reduces the risk of various diseases. A nourishing and healthy diet usually contains fresh, plant-based foods, fruit, dairy, protein, and whole grains.
At least half of every meal should contain fruits or vegetables, one-quarter grains or starches, and the remaining quarter, protein.