The different food groups
Your body needs energy to work normally and keep you alive. You get this energy from nutrients in the food that you eat - mostly, carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Minerals and vitamins are other nutrients that are also important in your diet to help your body stay healthy.
It is important to get the right balance between these different nutrients to get maximum health benefits. Your diet should contain food from each of the following food groups:
Carbohydrate is an important energy source for your body. Starchy foods often contain a lot of fibre (roughage). When you eat starchy foods, you get a feeling of fullness (satiety) which helps to control appetite. They also contain other vitamins and minerals important for health.
Tips to increase starchy foods include the following:
It is recommended that we eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit or vegetables each day. If you eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, then your chances of developing heart disease, a stroke, or bowel cancer are reduced.
Milk and other dairy foods such as cheese and yoghurt are important in your diet as they provide calcium which is needed for healthy teeth and bones. They are also a source of protein and can provide other vitamins and minerals important for your health.
Other protein-containing foods include meat, fish, eggs and non-dairy sources of protein. Non-dairy sources of protein include nuts, tofu, beans such as red kidney beans and canned beans, and pulses such as lentils and chickpeas.
You do need some fat in your diet but you need to be careful about how much fat you eat and what type of fat you eat. A low-fat diet helps to reduce your chance of developing diseases such as heart disease and stroke. It will also help you to keep a healthy weight. You should not have much saturated fats such as butter, lard, dripping, and unspecified margarine. Unsaturated fats are better, such as sunflower oil, olive oil, and low-fat spreads.
Sugary foods and drinks are high in calories, and too much may cause weight gain. It isn´t just the amount of sugar that may be bad. Even eating small amounts of sugary foods (sweets, etc) too often is bad for teeth.
Too much salt increases your risk of developing high blood pressure. Guidelines recommend that we should have no more than 6 grams of salt per day If you are used to a lot of salt, try gradually to reduce the amount that you have. Your taste for salt will eventually change.
You may be eating very healthy foods but you still need to keep an eye on your portion sizes because if they are too large, you will still gain weight. Deliberately try to take smaller portions when you have a meal.
Many drinks contain calories, including alcoholic and many nonalcoholic drinks . Think about what you are drinking.