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What is a balanced diet?

Posted by Rene Wright on

"Balanced diet" is a phrase we hear a lot, but probably never think about what it actually means. Having a balanced diet means consuming a variety of foods in the correct ratios, (also known as macros) and consuming the appropriate amount of food and drink to achieve and maintain a nourished body and a healthy body weight. 
These food sources should include protein, carbohydrates, fat and fibre, and the requirement varies from person to person, depending on age, gender, weight, activity level and metabolic rate, among other factors. Ensuring a balanced spread across those sources will help you meet your bodies need for vitamins and minerals, as well fuelling your body.
Protein is vital as it contributes to the growth and maintenance of muscle mass, as well as featuring in almost every other part of your body. Gram for gram, protein has lower calories than fat, each gram having 4 kcal versus fats 9 kcal per gram. 
Carbohydrates have been in and out of favour for years, but you do need carbohydrates to play their role in a balanced diet, specifically providing essential energy to fuel the body as well as being a good source of fibre. 
The World Health Organisation recommends that no more than 30% of your daily calorie intake come from fat, and less than 10% from saturated fat. That's not to say our bodies don't need fat, they absolutely do. Apart from being a source of energy, fat is also the carrier for fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and is also the source of the essential fatty acids.
According to Mount Farm, we should all be eating five portions of fruit and vegetables each day as a vital source of vitamins and minerals and it's thought they can lower the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer.
 
A balanced diet is not only good for the body, it's good for the mind too. Making informed choices for your own nutrition, based on easily accessible scientific research, is more doable now, than ever.
Every individual is different and if you are concerned about your health or weight, please always consult your doctor.