Are you having a balanced diet? Do you even think of what is it that you are eating on a daily basis? Most of the time we are so immersed in our work, that we don’t even give two hoots to what we are putting into our mouths.
First of all, what is a balanced diet? And what all foods should you include in it to maintain a healthy lifestyle? Check out this post for the answers!
What Is A Balanced Diet?
It is time to get the right definition of a ‘balanced diet’. A diet that contains the required amount of proteins, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins and minerals is said to be a balanced diet. It is relatively simple to follow a balanced diet that is nothing but a judicious blend of all basic food groups.
[ Read: Low Calorie Diet ]
Let’s have a peek into the essential food groups:
1. Eat Starchy Foods:
All our meals should be based on starchy foods. According to dietary recommendations, starchy foods should make up one-third of our consumption. This means we should base our meals on these foods. In this respect, wholegrain or wholemeal type of foods, such as, whole-wheat pasta and brown rice or high fibre white bread make a healthy choice.
2. Consume Five Portions Of Fruit And Vegetables A Day:
Fruits and vegetables are a vital source of vitamins and minerals. Ideally, we should consume at least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day as doing so has been proven to reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease. Fruits and vegetables protect against some types of cancers too.
Choose brightly coloured veggies, such as carrots, bell peppers, leafy greens, broccoli and squashes. You can make these veggies into delicious treats.
3. Pack Protein In Your Diet:
Meat, eggs, fish and beans are good sources of protein, which is vital to the body’s growth and repair. Meat is rich in vitamins and minerals, apart from being a good protein source. Vitamin B12, iron and zinc can also be found in meat. Fish is a healthy option as it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Eggs and pulses also add to the protein levels in the body. Pulses are a great source of proteins for vegans. If you are not keen on pulses, include tofu in your diet. It is a good source of protein and amino acids that keep the bio-chemical processes in your body working optimally.
4. Include Milk And Dairy Foods:
Milk and dairy foods such as cheese and yoghurt are packed with protein. They also contain calcium, which is vital for strong bones. Yogurt contains good bacteria and can increase the beneficial flora in your digestive tract to keep it working optimally. Try and consume organic yogurt.
Also, consume dairy products made from milk that is procured from pasture-fed cows. These products will not have harmful toxins like hormones or antibiotics.
5. Reduce Intake Of Food And Drinks That Are High In Fat And Sugar:
It is important to consume less fat and sugar. They are sources of energy, but when consumed in excess can lead to weight gain. Obesity can elevate the risk of many lifestyle diseases such as stroke and other cardiovascular ailments. Try to stay away from juices that are artificially sweetened, aerated drinks, processed foods, and even bakery items.
Now that you know the kind of foods to be included in a healthy balanced diet plan, go ahead and get to know the top foods that are highly recommended for a healthy lifestyle!
1. Beef And Pork:
Beef and pork are rich in protein, which you can source easily without pinching your pocket. It is advisable to pay a little more and enjoy pasture-fed or grass-fed beef and pork.
2. Chicken And Turkey:
Chicken and turkey make your diet extremely tasty as well as nutritious. Both are rich in protein, but chicken can up your cholesterol levels as it contains more fat and calories. If you are worried about cholesterol, choose lean pieces and try baking, poaching or boiling chicken.
Fish is rich in protein and Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fats boost your health and keep you fit. Wild salmon, tuna and mackerel are some of the fish you should be looking to consume at least once a week. It’s alright to include shellfish, as long as you know it has low or no mercury.
Flaxseed is a good source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is an omega-3 fatty acid. Flaxseed can be ground and added to cereal and salad. Some people also consume flaxseed oil, which can easily be used for salads as a part of the dressing.
5. Pumpkin Seeds:
Pumpkin seeds contain a wide variety of nutrients, magnesium and manganese, protein and zinc. Pumpkin seeds strengthen the immune system and keep the heart and liver healthy. It is known to help manage diabetes. Pumpkin seeds can be consumed as a snack, especially when you are feeling peckish between meals. Or, you can make a healthy granola bar with the seeds.
6. Chia Seeds:
Chia seeds score very high on the health food chart as they are packed with nutrients which can create a positive impact on your body and brain. Today, Chia seeds are considered a superfood and you will do well by adding these seeds to your daily diet.
7. Whole-Grain Bread And Pasta:
They are good sources of energy, B vitamins and fibre and should form the basis of your meals. Whole grain not only has vital nutrients, it also is necessary to keep your digestive tract healthy. Whole grains ensure you have regular bowel movements and keep you away from the discomfort of constipation.
Oatmeal is very healthy, and there is nothing like a bowl of cooked oatmeal for the power of nutrition to kick in. Try having a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast with some fruit and it will keep you satiated until lunchtime.
9. Dairy Products:
Dairy products such as milk provide micronutrients, and are a good source of protein and vitamins. Dietary guidelines suggest the use of yoghurt and milk that are low in fat. However, there seems to be an ongoing debate about the benefits of low-fat dairy. Understand the pros and cons of consuming low-fat dairy before you make a choice. Sometimes, low-fat may not be as healthy as health experts would like us to believe.
10. Seasonal Fruits:
Consume plenty of fruits as they are the best source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre. Fresh fruits, frozen fruits, pureed or canned fruits without additives and sugar are good to consume for a healthy body. Make smoothies and fruit salads with a variety of fruits to enjoy eating this healthy food.
11. Kidney Beans:
Kidney beans are rich in many nutrients such as calcium, B-complex vitamins, niacin, folate, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and soluble fibre.
They are rich in plant omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, Vitamin E and phytosterols. It is believed almonds also improve memory and are great for seniors and the elderly. So, if you are worried about age-related dementia, you should be looking to consume a handful of almonds. In fact, when you feel hungry between meals, eating a handful of almonds should keep those hunger pangs at bay until the next meal.
They contain Vitamin E, folate, magnesium and plant omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts make a tasty snack. You can eat them as they are, or you can add them to your breakfast cereal.
Tuna is a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, niacin and folate. If you are worried about the environment, go in for tuna that is labelled dolphin-friendly. Also, you should be looking to eat fish at least once a week to maintain cardiovascular health, and tuna is the perfect food for this.
Include tofu because it contains folate, potassium, niacin, calcium and magnesium. Tofu can be added to salads, soups and even vegetable dishes to make it tasty and appealing.
16. Brown Rice:
Brown rice is a good source of B-complex vitamins, fibre, niacin and magnesium. Brown rice definitely is much healthier than polished white rice, which hardly has any nutrients. You can eat wild brown rice as well, as it is equally healthy.
17. Soy Milk:
Soy milk is rich in isoflavones (a flavonoid), B-complex vitamins, niacin, folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium and phytoestrogens. Soy milk is great over oatmeal or whole-grain cereal. You can also make a smoothie with soy milk. This is great for people who have lactose intolerance and cannot consume dairy. It allows them to enjoy the benefits of milk without any adverse side effects.
Alpha-carotene (a carotenoid) and fibre are what you get when you eat carrots. Remember how your mother used to force you to eat carrots? There was a reason for it. Carrots are great for the eyes, skin and hair. If you eat a carrot a day, you can prevent vision problems later in life.
Spinach is rich in lutein (a carotenoid), B-complex vitamins, folate, magnesium, potassium, calcium and fibre. Pick spinach for nutrient-packed salads and sandwiches. You also can add blanched baby spinach into salads, quiche, sandwiches and stews.
Broccoli is rich in beta-carotene (a carotenoid), vitamins C and E, potassium, folate, calcium and fibre. Most kids detest this vegetable, but it can be made into an appetizing dish with some cheese.
21. Red Bell Peppers:
These are rich in beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids), B-complex vitamins, folate, potassium and fibre. Red bell peppers add color to salads and other dishes. They can also be added to meat and poultry preparations.
Although some consider it an expensive vegetable, you may want to include asparagus in your daily diet, as it contains beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids), B-complex vitamins, folate and fibre.
Rich in Vitamin C, this delicious fruit can provide immunity against diseases. It also contains potassium, folate and fibre. There is nothing like having freshly squeezed orange juice in the morning. Once you drink it, you will never want to sip another glass of canned or packaged orange juice!
They ensure you are in the pink of health as they contain beta- and alpha-carotene, lutein, lycopene, vitamin C, folate and fibre. Tomatoes can be added to salads, soups, stews, ragouts and much more.
Papaya is rich in beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein (carotenoids), Vitamins C and E. This is a tropical fruit and can be expensive. However, the health benefits nullify the cost of the fruit. So, if you spot one in your grocery store, grab it!
[ Read: Foods And Diet For Increasing Height ]
Other Foods To Include In Your Daily Diet:
There are a few other fruits that you can make a part of your daily diet if you like. These include the following:
1. Dried Plums:
Dried plums enhance bone health as they are rich in Vitamin K. They are also packed with antioxidants and are good to regulate bowel movements. Antioxidants destroy free radicals from the body. Many health experts attribute aging, age-related issues and cancer to free radicals. So, dried plums definitely are the proverbial fountain of youth!
2. Dark Chocolate:
Enjoy its taste and goodness as it contains resveratrol and cocoa phenols (flavonoids) in abundance. Both keep your cardiovascular health in all its glory and ensure your ticker never has a problem.
You are what you eat. If you consume fat laden food, it will be a surprise if you remain healthy. Stay informed and determined to maintain weight. Consume a balanced diet and enjoy life-long health.
Do you know of any other foods that can be included in a balanced diet menu? Share with us by commenting in the box below!
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