A balance in life is key to a happy and healthy life. Similarly, a balance of nutrients in our meals plays a critical role in maintaining and improving our health. A balanced diet offers enough nutrition that can suffice your body’s nutritional requirements vital for staying healthy and fighting against several diseases. Everyone has personal nutritional needs to overcome deficiencies and stay healthy. A balanced diet caters to your specific nutritional requirements without going overboard with the calorie count. That’s why it fits in perfectly with the best weight loss programs. So, now you can comprehend that junk foods or saturated foods are not a part of balanced diet food.
Still, many people may get confused about what a balanced diet is. However, nutritionists recommend that to keep it sweet and simple, add foods from all the 5 major food groups to ace a perfectly balanced diet. According to some legit research, a balanced diet is nothing but a balanced meal that claims fruits and veggies are the healthiest foods. Besides fruits and vegetables being the top-notch balanced diet foods, protein and grains along with some low-fat dairy products should also find a decent place in the balanced diet platter. This said, let us learn more about the balanced diet with its key nutrients, foods, and significance.
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Balanced Diet Nutrients
Scientifically speaking, a balanced diet is a game of adequate nutrients enabling growth and energy to carry out daily activities efficiently. It focuses on the proportions and quantities of the required nutrients that are vital for maintaining decent health. Therefore, a balanced meal contains proper proportions of protein, vitamins, minerals, carbs, fats, and water. Apart from these, calories are also necessary. However, calorie intake differs from person to person as it mainly depends on a person’s age, sex, and level of daily activity. A balanced diet usually avoids empty calories that contain a huge amount of calories with a negligible nutritional value. Examples of such foods are aerated drinks, fried foods, processed meat, sweet baked confectionaries, etc.
Therefore, to narrow down a healthy balanced diet, we can say that it contains various fruits and vegetables. Along with this, it does not overlook starchy but high fiber foods such as bread, low-fat dairy products, high-protein foods, a small number of unsaturated fats, and 3 liters of water. Thus, most balanced diet foods are healthy because of their low sugar and low salt content, free from processing and saturated fats.
Significance of A Balanced Diet
A properly balanced diet delivers all the vital nutrients in a manner that helps the body rejuvenate and perform daily functions efficiently. If the body is unable to consume or absorb essential nutrients, it becomes susceptible to various diseases and ailments. Therefore, a balanced diet improves fitness levels and keeps day-to-day fatigue at bay. Other than these general benefits of a balanced diet, other noteworthy qualities making a balanced diet necessary are as follows:
Critical for Proper Growth and Development Among Children
Parents and guardians should prioritize that their children have regular access to balanced diet food to avoid any unforeseen growth hindrances or impaired development. A lack of balanced diet nutrition in children can lead to malnutrition, grotesque infections, poor academic performance, or even advancement of diseases such as diabetes or cancer in later stages of their life.
Protects Against Non-Communicable Diseases
A healthy, active, and fit body is impossible without a balanced diet’s vital nutrients. Therefore, eating a balanced diet can protect you against deadly non-communicable diseases such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart strokes. As it boosts immunity, a balanced meal can save you from these leading causes of death.
Minimizes Global Health Risks for You
Did you know that low physical activity and consuming an unbalanced diet are global health risks? It’s not surprising that not switching to a balanced diet and continuous consumption of foods with high sugar, high salt, or high saturated fats can elevate cholesterol. So, they may give rise to heart diseases, tooth decay, and obesity, which can lead to health complexities. Therefore, sticking to a healthy diet can minimize these prevalent global health risks by offering you holistic nutrition.
The Balanced Diet Food List
A perfectly balanced diet centers around the 5 major food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. These food groups offer us different types of nutrients and calories that get stored as energy in the body. Though they can make up for an effective lean diet plan, an excess of these calories may become a cause for rapid weight gain. For this matter, calories and fats are added in moderate amounts to the balanced diet of less than 10% and 30%, respectively.
Therefore, a balanced diet ensures healthy consumption of calories and delivers optimum nutrition with a full range of nutrients. However, excluding any of the core food groups may adversely impact your health. So, read the below given major food groups of a balanced diet carefully and try to adjust foods from each of them into your diets-
Stuffed with necessary vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, veggies come first in the balanced diet food list. Vegetables can be consumed daily and are a staple diet in most households because of their holistic nutrition. All the colorful vegetables, legumes such as peas or beans, green vegetables such as broccoli or spinach, and other vegetables such as potatoes serve a great deal of nutritional value. Therefore, it is wise to consume vegetables every week in a way that they make up one-third of your daily diet.
Sometimes cooking methods such as boiling or deep frying may make the veggies lose their nutritional potency. So, eating vegetables as side dishes, salads, soups, smoothies, or juices is healthier. Vegetables fall into the category of cheap and easily available balanced diet food. However, this fact does not make them fall short of their nutritional value. Veggies are nutritionally rich enough to protect against several diseases such as heart strokes, high cholesterol, and even cancer.
The more you add fruit to your balanced diet, the more you enrich your health. With natural sweetness, fruits can also serve you as a healthy snack or dessert. Like vegetables, fruits such as watermelon, apple, pomegranate, etc., contain natural and potent vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. As a result, fruit juices have taken over the market, promising the same benefits as whole fruits. However, it’s always best to consume whole fruits instead of juice as popular choices such as cranberry juice may lack fiber and have added sugar. Thus, it’s recommended to add fresh whole fruits as a part of your balanced diet as they deliver a more comprehensive range of nutrients than juices.
Basically, there are two categories of grains: whole grains and refined grains. Grains are among the top plant-based fiber-rich foods. Whole grains are jampacked with fiber with its components such as germ, endosperm, and bran intact. That’s why the digestion of whole grains is complex, so its slow breakdown has no impact on blood sugar levels. On the contrary, refined grains contain relatively less fiber and protein than whole grains. It may also cause a spike in blood sugar levels as they discard the natural components and the outer shell covering of the grains during their processing.
The recommended amount of grains you should consume to complete your balanced diet is one-fourth of your plate. In addition to this, you must also remember that half the grains you eat must come from whole grain sources such as oats, barley, brown rice, etc. Many baked and processed foods use refined grains in the form of white flour. Therefore, it’s much healthier to eat whole grain foods instead of processed pasta, bread, and rice.
Everyone knows that dairy products are the key sources of calcium and help strengthen bones and teeth. Therefore, you cannot afford to miss dairy products from your balanced diet. Low-fat dairy products such as low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, or even plant-based milk naturally host plenty of vitamins and minerals. People with allergies and lactose intolerance, or vegan dietary choices always have the option of plant or soy-based milk products to fulfill their calcium needs. In addition, dairy products have an array of other nutrients, including vitamin D and protein.
Though protein supplements are making people search for when to drink protein shakes regularly, the significance of dietary protein is still solid. Protein is an extraordinary part of a balanced diet and must hold a quarter of space in your meals. Its key functions involve muscle strengthening, maintenance of muscle mass, wound healing, and other vital functions. Animal meats are the richest and most desired sources of protein. Along with protein, meat is also an excellent source of iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. However, ensure that you opt for non-processed meat only as processed meats may contain added salts and preservatives. Plant-based protein sources such as soy, legumes, nuts, etc., also hold abundant quantities of protein. If placed correctly in a balanced diet, both meat and plant-based protein sources can deliver enough protein to cater to your personal needs.
A balanced diet is subjectively the healthiest diet. Meal planning is always done keeping in mind personal factors such as age, sex, physical activity, and fitness level. For that matter, some people facing malnutrition may need more carbs while others, like bodybuilders, may need more protein. Though the number of nutrients may be variant, everyone’s diet must have foods from all the five major groups. With the help of a dietician, many people understand their body needs and create a perfect set of nutrients in their balanced diet. So, if you have aced your balanced diet game, share it in the comments section with us!