Health is one of the most important attributes we can have in our lives and this can be highly influenced by the type of foods we eat. Not only is it important to get the correct nutrition for our bodies to function correctly, but it is also important to ensure health risk factors such as heart disease are reduced by eating healthy foods. Many people struggle to eat the correct proportions of each of the food groups but healthy eating does not need to be complicated. Below we will list each of the 5 major food groups that are important to gain a healthy, balanced diet. Read the article you have the best selection list of 5 major food groups.
Fruit and Vegetables
Most of us will have heard the recommendation to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, but how many actually achieve this? Fruit and vegetables are a good source of vitamins and minerals which are needed by our bodies to function. Fruits such as bananas are a natural source of energy that contains many fewer calories than snacks such as crisps and biscuits.
Getting your 5 a day portion is not as hard as it seems! Having fruit on your cereal, a piece of fruit instead of a biscuit, snacking on dried fruit, and having a mixture of vegetables with your dinner will soon enable you to reach your 5 a day target. Eating fruit and vegetables can even help to protect against illnesses such as heart disease and certain cancers so have a real health benefit when included in your daily diet. Approximately one-third of our diet should come from this category.
Grains and starchy foods are a vital source of energy for our bodies in the form of carbohydrates. Foods such as bread, rice, and potatoes offer fuel for your body as well as being a good source of fiber. Approximately one-third of all foods that we eat should contain grains and starchy foods. Wholegrain and wholemeal varieties usually have more vitamins and minerals as well as increased fiber and it is recommended that these varieties are eaten more often than the white varieties.
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Meat and Protein
Protein is an important nutrient as it is essential for the growth and repair of the body. Meat is a good source of protein which also offers a range of vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, and B12. It is important to try to select lean cuts of meat to reduce your fat intake including removing the skin from poultry which can be very high in fat. For those who are vegetarian, protein can be gained from sources such as eggs, fish, and pulses.
Fish, in particular oily fish, contains omega 3 oils which are essential for the body. However, canned fish can contain high levels of salt so fresh fish is the healthiest option. Nuts are also a great source of protein but have to be eaten in moderation due to their high-fat content. It is recommended that we eat two portions a day, approximately one-sixth of our daily intake.
Dairy foods include foods such as milk, cheese, and yogurts which are good sources of protein as well as calcium, which is needed to keep bones and teeth strong and healthy. Dairy foods can be high in fat, so try using semi-skimmed or skimmed milk instead of full fat, as well as reduced-fat cheese and low-fat yogurts. As with every food group, moderation is the key. It is recommended that healthy adults get 2-3 portions a day to maintain a healthy diet, approximately one-sixth of our daily intake.
Fats & Sugar
Fat and sugar provide our body with energy but most of us eat far too much fat and sugar in our diets without gaining much of a nutritional benefit. Fat and sugar can be found in most foods and is often an ingredient that many do not think about. Foods high in fat include crisps, biscuits, pies, cheese, cakes as well as many ready-made foods.
Sugar also provides our body with energy and can also be found in many foods, either occurring naturally or added. When we eat too much fat and sugar, our body stores this energy and we put on weight. Excess body fat puts increased pressure on our hearts and vital organs and often leads to health problems.
Saturated fats are the type of fats we need to be reducing. Found in many processed foods such as cakes as well as fried food, it is advised to try to substitute unhealthy snacks with those with higher nutritional benefits, such as fruit. Although our bodies need fat and sugar, it is recommended that this food group is kept to a minimum, no more than one-twelfth of your daily intake.
We are advised to include foods from each of the five major food groups within our daily diet to maintain good health. Nutrition is not a difficult concept, but often time restrictions and our busy lives get in the way of eating healthily. Our best advice is to plan ahead. We are much more likely to stray from a healthy, balanced diet when the cupboards are running low so make sure you plan for the week and top up as necessary to help avoid those last-minute trips to the local takeaway!
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Here is the best selection of the 5 major food groups.