What is a balanced diet?
A balanced diet is one that meets all the nutritional needs of an individual. Human beings need a certain amount of calories and nutrients to stay healthy.
A balanced diet provides all the nutrients a person needs without exceeding the recommended daily calories.
By following a balanced diet, people can get the nutrients and calories they need and avoid eating junk food or foods that have no nutritional value.
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The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) used to recommend following the food pyramid. But as the science of nutrition has changed, they now recommend eating foods from all five food groups and building a balanced plate.
According to USDA recommendations, half of a person’s plate should consist of fruits and vegetables.
The other half should consist of grains and protein. They recommend supplementing each meal with a serving of low-fat dairy products or another source of nutrients found in dairy products.
A healthy and balanced diet includes foods from these five groups:
The vegetable group includes five subgroups:
red or orange vegetables
Legumes, beans and peas
Other vegetables, such as eggplant or zucchini
To get enough nutrients and keep food boredom at bay, people should choose a variety of vegetables.
Additionally, the USDA recommends that people eat vegetables from each of the five subgroups each week.
People can enjoy vegetables raw or cooked. However, it is important to remember that cooking vegetables removes some of their nutritional value. Also, some methods, like deep frying, can add unhealthy fats to the dish.
A balanced diet also includes plenty of fruit. Instead of getting the fruit from the juice, nutritionists recommend eating the whole fruit.
Juice contains fewer nutrients. The manufacturing process also often adds empty calories due to added sugar. People should choose fresh or frozen fruit or fruit canned in water instead of syrup.
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There are two subgroups of whole grains and refined grains.
Whole grains include all three parts of the grain, the bran, and the endosperm. The body breaks down whole grains slowly so they have less of an effect on blood sugar.
Also, whole grains contain more fiber and protein than refined grains.
Refined grains are processed and do not contain the three original ingredients. Refined grains also tend to be lower in protein and fiber and can cause your blood sugar to spike.
Grains are used to form the base of the government-approved food pyramid, meaning the majority of a person’s daily calories come from grains. However, updated guidelines suggest that grains should make up only a quarter of a person’s plate.
At least half of the grains a person eats each day should be whole grains. Healthy whole grains include: