A balanced diet is one that contains all the nutrients in correct proportions, adequate for growth and development, energy needs, nitrogen equilibrium, repair and maintenance of normal health. In other words a balanced diet is one that provides adequate amounts of both macronutrients and micronutrients, for the regulation of metabolic processes and maintenance of an optimal health.
It should include foods from all the major food groups, in proper proportions; which are:
- Milk and milk products
- Meat, poultry and fish,
- Cereals, roots and tubers,
- Pulses and legumes,
- Nuts and oil seeds
- Vegetables and fruits,
- Fats and oils, and
Foods in food groups have been categorized according to the nutrients they contain in maximum quantity. For example meat, poultry and fish are all high in protein although they contain other nutrients as well such as fats, iron, etc.
Nutrients have been categorized as Macro and Micro nutrients, according to the quantities required for performing their functions in the body, these are:
Apart from these we also need:
Food groups have been classified according to the nutrients they provide. These are:
- Carbohydrates: these provide 4calories per gram and are found in cereals, roots and tubers and also in fruits and vegetables.
- Fats: these are concentrated sources of calories and provide 9 kcal per gram and are found in fats and oils and in nuts and oil seeds.
- Proteins: there main function is growth and maintenance, but in absence of availability of sufficient calories from carbohydrates or fats, these are used as calorie sources. These provide 4 calories per gram. Major sources are milk and milk products and meat fish and poultry. Although they are present in good quantities in nuts and pulses and Legumes also and in lesser quantities in cereals.
- Vitamins and Minerals: Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of both the vitamins and minerals. Certain vitamins are also found in whole grain cereals. Nuts and oil seeds and oils and fats apart from containing fats also contain good quantities of fat soluble vitamins. Both vitamins and minerals help the body fight against various diseases and improve the immune system.
- Water and fiber: they provide neither energy nor perform the body building functions but are very important for maintaining good health. These help in the prevention of Chronic diseases.
So taking a balanced diet means eating a wide of foods in the right proportions, to achieve good health and maintain a proper health, according to one’s age, gender and lifestyle requirement.
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