This is the second half of my recent blog entitled: ‘The 5 food groups.’ Here are a few more tips to guide you towards a healthy balanced diet.
The best way to get the vitamins, minerals and nutrients we need is to eat a variation of the right foods. It may also be helpful to bear in mind the following information:
Carbohydrates: There are 2 main groups of carbohydrates:
Sugars: sugar is simply not essential in our diet. It provides us with calories and contains no beneficial nutrients. Try choosing low calorie drinks, cutting sugar out of tea and coffee and avoid eating cakes and sweets.
Starches: starchy foods include breads, potatoes, rice, cereals and pasta. They give us energy and aren’t high in calories as long as you avoid adding extra fat or sugar to them.
Fats: a small amount of fat is essential in our diets as it gives us energy, but many of us will eat far too much and should try to cut down.
Unsaturated fats: can help lower cholesterol and help maintain a healthy heart. Good sources of these fats are found in vegetable oils like sunflower or soya oil, oily fish like mackerel, sardines, pilchards, olive oils, margarines (labelled high in polyunsaturates) and avocado pears.
Saturated fats: a diet high in these types of fat will increase cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. These fats are found in high quantities in meat, dairy products such as full-fat milk, cheese and butter, pies, cakes, chocolate and biscuits. As well as cutting down on our fat intake, we should try to eat foods containing unsaturated fats, instead of the saturated kind.
Fibre: helps keep the bowel working regularly and keeps the large intestine healthy. It also provides us with some nutrients too. Fibre can be found in breakfast cereals, wholemeal or granary bread, fruit and vegetables, wholegrain rice, pasta, potatoes, beans, pulses and lentils.
Protein: is essential for growth, repair and the healing of the body. Protein may be found in meats and poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, beans and lentils.
Salt: Too much causes high blood pressure and can lead to kidney failure. Most of us eat more salt that we need and should try to cut down. Try to avoid salty snacks like crisps and nuts, try not to use additional salt at the table. Use herbs and spices instead and cut down on salty foods like ham and bacon. Avoid processed and packaged foods also, because they all contain too much salt.
Vitamins and Minerals: are essential for good health. The majority of us who maintain a healthy diet should have the vitamins and minerals we require. If you are eating a varied diet, vitamin and mineral supplements may not always be necessary.