Aside from the fact that food just tastes great, there are many reasons why you should maintain a balanced diet. Eating a varied diet is incredibly important for your overall health and well-being. Eating a wide range of nutritious foods helps to ensure that your body has all the vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and fats it needs to function at its best. A balanced diet also provides essential fibre, which is beneficial for digestive health.
Here is a look at what you should be eating to keep a well balanced diet, and the benefits these foods can provide.
What Should You Eat To Keep A Well Balanced Diet
The words “well balanced diet” may imply that you can eat everything in moderation, and this is true, but it’s always better to focus on the more important food groups to ensure you’re getting the best nutrition possible.
Vegetables And Legumes
One of the more important food groups is, of course, vegetables. Packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and dietary fibre, you should aim to consume 5 to 6 servings of vegetables (as well as legumes) every day. It’s important to take into account the nutritional density of some vegetables – for instance, spinach is going to contain a lot more essential nutrients such as iron when compared to an iceberg lettuce, even though both are considered leafy greens.
Some excellent vegetables to focus on include:
- Beans, peas, spinach, brussels sprouts and broccoli
- Capsicum, tomatoes, carrots, sweet potato and pumpkin
- Red cabbage and eggplant
- Cauliflower, mushrooms and potatoes.
Many of our meals at Top Nosh contain generous servings of vegetables including pumpkin, potato and broccoli. For example, our steamed fish in lemon sauce is served with a side of carrots, broccoli, pumpkin and mashed potato, whereas our lentil dahl and rice is a great way to enjoy legumes for that all-important fibre and a meat-free source of protein.
And don’t forget the wealth of health benefits that come with vegetables as part of a well balanced diet! A diet rich in vegetables can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems, and help to control blood sugar, which in turn can keep your appetite in check.
Fruit is a great way to have a sweet treat without loading up on added sugar, and adults should aim for around two serves a day. If you’re on a diet where you need to track your calorie intake, you might be surprised to see just how low in calories many fruits can be. Some great options for daily fruit include:
- Apples, oranges and pears
- Dried fruits
- Stone fruits
Fruit is also a great snack option that you can pop in your bag without having to worry about containers or packaging. If you choose to consume canned fruit, be mindful of the amount of sugar that can be found in the syrup, and skip eating it.
Whole grains are a fantastic addition to a well balanced diet, as they provide fibre, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Whole-grain foods also help control a number of health problems including cholesterol levels, weight and high blood pressure. Whole grains also help lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease and other conditions.
When looking for appropriate grains and cereals to add to your diet, consider the following:
- Muesli (untoasted)
- Whole grain pasta
- Brown rice
- Whole grain bread and wraps
- Rice cakes.
Lean Meats & Meat Alternatives
While we love a sausage on the barbecue every now and then, there are much better ways to consume meat. Meat is one of the easiest ways to consume protein, however, if you are looking to cut down your meat consumption, tofu and eggs are also rich in protein. Protein is essential to all people, as all of our cells contain protein; therefore, consuming protein helps to repair and produce new cells.
Focus on lean cuts of meat, or oily fish such as salmon or sardines, over processed meats. Some good choices for a well balanced diet include lean ham, beef and chicken, all fresh and frozen fish, and other varieties of seafood including crab, scallops and oysters.
The jury is out on whether or not dairy is necessary in an adult diet, but there’s no denying that dairy is an easy way to get the calcium, vitamin D, and protein needed to keep your heart, muscles, and bones healthy. Full cream Greek yoghurt is an excellent choice for dairy in a well balanced diet, as it is higher in protein than regular yoghurt (especially the flavoured varieties), which helps to keep you full, and works as a substitute for other forms of dairy such as sour cream.
Dairy alternatives are also a great idea if you are lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy. Soy, nut and rice milks are an option. If you’re worried about your calcium intake, ensure that these have at least 100mg calcium per 100ml.
Despite what many diet programs have told us in the past, fat is necessary in a well balanced diet. Fat is a source of essential fatty acids, which the body cannot make itself. Fat helps the body absorb vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin E (all essential to our health), which cannot be absorbed without the help of fats.
However, some ways of consuming fat are better than others. Avocados and avocado oils are a fantastic way to introduce healthy fats to your diet, as are olives and olive oil. Nuts such as almonds, cashews and walnuts are another great source of healthy fats.
Water is vital to any diet, with most nutritionists recommending 8 glasses of water per day. However, water can be a little boring if that’s all you’re drinking all day every day! Sparkling water with a slice of lemon or lime is a refreshing option, but some other good options include diet variety soft drinks (be sure to keep on top of your dental hygiene and watch the amount of caffeine), herbal and black tea, and pure fruit juices in small servings.
Another important aspect of nutrition to consider is macro. Short for macronutrients, macros are the nutrients we need in larger quantities to provide us with energy. Everything we eat on a daily basis can be broken down into one of three macronutrients: fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. To achieve an optimal, well-balanced diet, a macro breakdown of 20%-30% fat, 30% protein, and 40%-50% carbohydrates. Your macros may change throughout your life, particularly if you wish to lose weight or build muscle.
Eat Healthy and Clean, With Top Nosh
Our wide range of frozen meals means there’s always something tasty to enjoy, with the right balance of meat, vegetables and forms of carbohydrates to ensure you are getting a well-rounded meal every time. We provide well rounded ready made meals across the Sunshine Coast and northern Brisbane – so browse our full menu online, and get a taste of our lovingly prepared, home-cooked meals today.