What is a Balanced Diet?
Balanced diet is nothing which contains different types of foods in such quantities and proportions so that the need for proteins, calories, minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients is adequately met and a small provision is made for the extra nutrients to withstand short duration of leanness and covers energy expenditure and for tissue maintenance, repair and growth.
The Foods Standards Agency defines a balanced diet as having ‘a variety of foods, basing meals on starchy foods and eating at least five portions of fruit and veg a day.’
They also recommend having moderate amounts of fish (2 portions a week one being oily) moderating the amount of protein you have in fat or sugar.`
In addition, a Balanced diet should also provide bioactive phytochemicals such as a dietary fiber, antioxidants and other nutraceuticals. Low glycaemic index foods are usually preferred. A balanced diet should provide 65-75 percent of total calories from carbohydrates, 10-12 percent of total calories from Protein and 20-25 of total calories from fat.
Also, A balanced diet should be one based on eating a variety of different foods and eating foods that have not been processed.
Importance of balanced diet
People should look to eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, to reduce the amount of processed food they eat. To ensure they drink at least three liters of water a day, to have a balance between the number of fats, carbs, and protein they take.
Diet has a powerful yet complex effect on health. A balanced diet will-
- Meet nutritional requirements
- Provide Phytochemicals
- Prevents degenerative diseases
- Improves Longevity
- Prolongs Productive life
- Improves immunity
- Increases endurance levels
- Develops the optimum cognitive ability
- Helps in coping up stress
- Ability to withstand short duration of leanness
- Covers energy expenditure and for tissue maintenance, repair, and growth.
DETERMINANTS OF FOOD CHOICE:
Food choice is affected by many factors like biological, economic, physical, social, psychological and attitude and beliefs too.
Biological factors include Hunger, Satiety, and Palatability.
There is an increase in intake of food as palatability increases. Increasing food variety can also increase food and energy intake. Food is not solely regarded as a source of nourishment but is often consumed for the pleasure value it imparts.
Economic and Physical Determinants involve Cost, Accessibility, Education, and knowledge.
Cost of food is the primary determinant of foods choice. The low-income group has a greater tendency to consume foods from only a few groups of fruits and vegetables. Also, Studies indicate that the level of education can influence dietary behavior during adulthood.
Nutrition knowledge is gained by the public through various media, regarding food package and of course through health professionals.
Social determinants of food choice include Cultural influence, social context, values, social setting, and meal patterns.
Cultural influences lead to differences in habitual consumption of certain foods and in traditions of preparations. It can lead to restrictions such as the exclusion of meat or some vegetables from the diet. People follow different meal patterns. Some have three meals per day whereas some have only two meals per day. Some snack frequently and some have fresh meals, or some have late meals.
Psychological Factors include stress and mood because the influence of stress on food choice is complex. Food influences mood and mood has a strong influence over food.
FUNCTIONAL FOODS IN BALANCED DIET:
Functional foods must remain as foods, and they must demonstrate their effects in amounts that can normally be expected to consume in diet. They are not pills or capsules but part of a food pattern.
Functional foods have a positive effect on a person’s health, physical performance or state of mind. Food also acts like an antioxidant, detoxifying agent, blocking or suppressing agent. Food rich in fiber helps in excreting harmful substances. Probiotics help in maintaining intestinal bacterial balance. Food-not the nutrients- plays an important role in preventing of disease and promoting good health.
A BALANCED DIET MUST INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING FUNCTIONAL FOODS: A BALANCED DIET CHART-
Soya protein contains isoflavones. Total isoflavones content is more in sprouts of chickpea which acts as an antioxidant, protective agent in fighting against cancer and heart disease. Rajmah, black gram dal, and green gram contain good quantities of phenolic content. By boiling and pressure cooking total phenolic content increases in whole grams like black gram, green gram and Bengal gram.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES:
Plants produce vitamins like Vitamin-C, ß-carotene. Green leafy vegetables are an exceptionally rich source of ß-carotene, nature’s most potent antioxidant that can inhibit atherosclerosis and prevent heart disease. Guava and amla due to their vitamin C content are rich in antioxidants. Red grapes and pomegranates have anthocyanins. Banana is poor in antioxidants. Apples, pears, cherries, citrus fruits, onion, broccoli, and lettuce reduce the risk of heart diseases, cancer and urinary tract infections.
DRY FRUITS, ALL SEEDS, AND NUTS:
Antioxidant found in walnut is melatonin which has the highest antioxidant activity followed by brown raisins. Consumption of dry fruits augments the antioxidant status and protect against chronic disease.
Ginger counteracts oxidative damage in tissues of the liver and lungs. Turmeric provides a variable food base. The components of garam masala like cloves, mustard, cinnamon, star anise, bay leaves have high antioxidant property. Poppy seeds are found to have low antioxidant activity.
TEA AND COFFEE:
Tea is found to have antioxidant property. Studies have shown that colon cancer appears to prove a negative association with tea consumption. Men who drink more than 500ml (4cups) of tea are found to be benefited most.
SEEDS AND OILS:
Oils like mustard oil and rapeseed oil contain phenolic activity. Flax seeds contain omega three fatty acids that benefit the cardiovascular and immune system. The phenolic acids, phytic acids, and flavonoids present in flax seeds have a protective role in preventing cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Whey proteins have been shown to stimulate cell-mediated and humoral immunity in stressed individuals. They also inhibit the growth of several types of tumors. Water-soluble antioxidants are obtained from milk or whey.
My plate is USDA’S primary food group symbol, a food icon that serves as a reminder to make food choices and to build a healthy dish at meal times. It is a visual clue that identifies the five basic food groups from which people choose healthy foods to build a healthy plate.
The plate is divided into Four groups that is, Fruits (20%), Vegetables (30%), Protein group (20%) and grains (30%) and a bowl of dairy product.
DIETARY GUIDELINES OF MY PLATE:
- Balance calories
- Enjoy your food but eat less
- Avoid oversized portions
- Compare sodium in foods
- Foods to eat more often are vegetables, fruits, whole grains and fat-free or 1% milk or dairy products
- Make half your grains whole grains
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks
Every family has unique needs and My Plate helps to discover a personalized healthy eating style that works within their lifestyle.
A Balanced diet helps you enjoy various kinds of foods also keeping you healthy!