How to Have a Healthy and Balanced Diet

A good diet increases your chances of living a longer, healthier life by reducing the risk of diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It may even help reduce the risk of developing some cancers.

Carbohydrates and Fibre: Half of our daily calories come from complex carbohydrates found in all fruit, vegetables, grain and cereals such as pasta, potatoes and rice. With carbohydrates such as breads, grains, and cereals, try to choose the whole grain, unrefined options, such as whole meal bread and brown rice. For a well-balanced diet, eat a range of healthy foods in the correct proportions. Complex starchy carbohydrates and proteins release energy gradually, helping you to keep going for longer, while vegetables and fruits are important sources of fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Protein-rich food are vital for building and repairing your body cells. Use the size of the palm of your hand as a guide to gauge the correct size of each food portion. Refined grains are known as simple carbohydrates and the processed products made from these refined grains, such as white bread, cake and pastries. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and lentils are rich in fibre which keeps your digestive system healthy, lower cholesterol and may decrease the risk of cancer. Limit the amount of processed foods otherwise you will lose out on fibre.

Milk and dairy products: These foods are high in calcium, protein, and vitamins, but they can be high in fat. So opt for low or reduced-fat dairy products, such as semi-skimmed or skimmed milk.

Meat and Fish: Lean meat, such as poultry, and fish, are rich in iron, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Aim to eat at least two portions of fish a week. Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel or fresh tuna are rich in omega-3 oils. Consider taking supplements if you can't eat much of this fish.

Fats and sugars: The fats found in nuts, seeds, and oily fish provide Vitamins A,D,E and K. Fats divided into three types:
1. Monounsaturated found in olive oil, nuts and avocados
2. Polyunsaturated found in oily fish, sunflower oil and spreads
3. Saturated found in sweets and savoury snacks, processed meat products, ready meals, biscuits, cakes, pastries, and dairy.

Sugar is high in calories and provides no nutritional benefit. So limit sugary food in your diet.

Five Essential Minerals
Minerals promote muscles activity, keep cells and nerves healthy, and help the body repair itself. Five essential minerals are given below:
1. Calcium for strong bones and teeth. Sources: Cheese, low-fat yogurt, tofu, broccoli, semi-skimmed milk
2. Iron for the manufacture of red blood cells. Lack of it leads to tiredness. Sources: Red kidney beans, liver and dried apricots.
3. Zinc for maintaining healthy immune system. Sources: Prawns, oysters, liver and whole meal bread.
4. Potassium for promoting muscles activity and nerves function, and prevent cramp. Sources: Bananas, avocados and red kidney beans.
5. Magnesium for healthy nervous system. Sources: Nuts, almonds, steamed spinach and whole meal bread.

Nine Essential Vitamins
Small quantities of vitamins are needed by our bodies in order to work efficiently and resist illnesses. Nine essential vitamins are given below:
1. Vitamin A strengthens our immune system. Sources: Beta-carotene found in yellow and orange foods such as carrots turns into Vitamin A in the body
2. Vitamin B1 converting carbohydrates into energy. Sources: Raisins, egg, whole meal bread and flakes.
3. Vitamin B2 keeps eyes, skin and nervous system healthy. Sources: Rice, mushrooms, semi-skimmed milk and eggs.
4. Vitamin B6 allows body to use and store energy from the food we eat. Sources: Chicken, turkey and peanuts.
5. Vitamin B12 prevents anemia, helps maintain healthy nervous system. Sources: Lamb, salmon, cheese and eggs.
6. Vitamin C increases body resistance to infection and free radicals. Sources: Oranges, red pepper, steamed broccoli.
7. Vitamin D is helps in calcium absorption and vital for healthy bones. Sources: Herrings, mackerel, salmon and eggs.
8. Vitamin E protects from free radical damage and keeps skin, nerves and muscles healthy. Sources: Sunflower seeds, peanuts and almonds.
9. Folate breaks down protein in the body and helps prevent birth defects in newborn babies. Sources: Steamed broccoli, peas, chickpeas.

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