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Healthy and Balanced Diet

The key to a healthy and happy lifestyle is to eat a well balanced diet - the right balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fibre, fat, vitamins and minerals.

Proteins are made up of amino acids, which are essential for building our muscles and help our body function correctly.  Meat, fish, eggs, tofu, dairy products (milk, yogurt/curds, cheese), legumes (peas, beans, lentils/dals) and nuts (cashews, almonds, walnuts, pistachios) are good sources of protein.
Poultry Meat (Chicken, Turkey, Duck) is lower in fat than red meat, especially if the skin is removed.

Carbohydrates give us energy to grow and lead an active life.  Potatoes, grains (wheat, rice, oats) and legumes (peas, beans, lentils/dals) are good sources of carbohydrates.  Oats and wheat are more nutritious than rice and corn.
Why whole grain is better?  Whole grain foods like bread, pasta contain more vitamins, minerals and fibre than processed foods - all purpose flour or maida because many nutrients are lost during the refining process.

Fibre is required by our body to keep our intestines/gut healthy and to prevent constipation.  Whole wheat bread or chapatis/rotis, whole wheat pasta, legumes, fruits and vegetables with their skin (apples, potatoes) on all contain fibre. 
Two kinds of fibre - Insoluble fibre like in whole wheat bread, brown rice.  Although the body cannot digest insoluble fibre, it helps the passage of other food and waste products through our gut and keeps our bowels working properly.  Soluble fibre is found in oats and beans and can be digested by our body.

Fat, though required in lesser amounts, is still an important nutrient.  It is a good source of energy and helps our body absorb some vitamins - Fat Soluble Vitamins like A, D, E and K. 
The healthy fats are Unsaturated Fats - Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated.  These fats are usually liquid at room temperature.  Oily fish (tuna, salmon), avocados, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils - sunflower, olive, sesame/til are good sources of healthy fats.  Though these fats are healthy, only a small amount is needed for our body.  Nuts, seeds and oily fish are rich in omega-3 fats which is healthy.
The unhealthy fats are Saturated and Trans fats - generally solid at room temperature like butter, cheese, lard/pig fat, hard margarine.

Vitamins help our body work properly.  Minerals help our body grow and repair itself which is important for healthy skin, bones and teeth.  Fresh fruits and veggies are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals. 
Vitamins are categorized into Fat Soluble - A, D, E, K and Water Soluble - B complex and C.

We all know Fruits and Vegetables are good for us because they provide all the above mentioned nutrients and natural plant compounds known as phytochemicals.  Phytochemicals are responsible for the colour, taste and smell of a fruit or a vegetable. 
One must eat a minimum of five servings of different fruits and vegetables every day.  One serving is roughly equal to the amount you can hold in one hand - an apple, a few grapes, an orange, few florets of cauliflower or broccoli.  The best way is to eat a combination - rainbow of fruits and vegetables.


Red - Tomatoes, strawberries, red bell peppers/capsicum, grapes, cherries are a great source of vitamin C, which supports the immune system and helps the condition of our skin, hair and nails.
Yellow - Bananas, corn, melon, yellow bell peppers/capsicum and pineapple contain carotenoids which give these fruits their yellow colour.  These fruits and veggies have been found to protect the body against cancer and heart disease.
Orange - Carrots, pumpkin, squash, mango, apricots and orange bell peppers/capsicum contain large amounts of beta - carotene and vitamin C.  Beta - carotene is great for boosting our immune system and vitamin C helps in relieving cold.  Veggies like pumpkin and squash contain more carotene as compared to a carrot.
Green - Broccoli, cabbage and sprouts are rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly beta - carotene, vitamins B and C, iron, potassium and calcium.  These nutrients help to support our immune system.
Purple - Grapes, eggplants/brinjals, black currants/raisins/dry grapes, blueberries, figs, beets, red cabbage all are an excellent source of vitamin C.  These fruits and veggies also contain bioflavonoids, which help our body to absorb vitamin C and reduce pain if we bruise or hurt ourselves.

3 comments:

  1. lovely post hope you get to join the food palette colour series this month it is black
    looking forward to hear from you Uma

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good info..helps to plan a time table for menu..

    ReplyDelete
  3. such wonderful and valuable points to remember..
    love the information ...will try to incorporate!

    ReplyDelete

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