Having a balanced diet is a very important part of staying healthy. We need to understand what it means to have a balanced diet. According to dictionary.com, a balanced diet is defined as ‘a diet consisting of the proper quantities and proportions of foods needed to maintain health or growth.’ This means eating a wide variety of foods in the correct proportions to maintain a healthy bodyweight.
The essential components needed by the body to remain healthy are carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, minerals and water. These essential components of the diet can be found in 5 main food groups:
The recommendation of vegetable intake for adults is 2 to 3 cups of vegetable per day. According to the CDC website, in 2015, only around 9-16% of adults met this recommendation. The report highlighted that very few Americans eat the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables which can put them at a higher risk for chronic diseases.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram body weight. This is the minimum amount of protein required to remain healthy. Depending on your level of activity, you may require much more than this amount. Proteins are used by the body to build muscles, connective tissue, enzymes, organs, tendons, neurotransmitters and also has many other functions.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 2 cups of fruits per day. Studies have shown that this is the most optimum amount that plays a part in preventing chronic diseases along with 3 servings of vegetables per day. Eating more than 2 servings of fruits per day did not show any additional health benefits.
Grains consists of complex carbohydrates and minerals. It is recommended that men eat 6-8 servings of grains per day and women eat 5-6 servings per day. At least half should be whole grain. Grains can include bread, tortilla, cereal flakes, rice, pasta, popped popcorn etc.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends 3 servings of dairy per day. Examples of dairy include milk, yogurt, cheese etc. Diary is important for bone health among other benefits.