Healthy diet

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Key points

  • A balanced diet contains the correct amount of all food groups.
  • The food groups are: carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre and water.
  • Each food group has its own role to play within a healthy diet.

A healthy plate

Video

Find out what makes a balanced plate of food from a catering supervisor.

Can you answer these questions based on the video?

What are the four food groups mentioned in the video, which together help to create a 'healthy plate'?

The four food groups mentioned in the video that together help to create a 'healthy plate' are:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Fats
  • Proteins
  • Fibre

Can you think of an example of food from each of these groups?

Balanced diet

To keep healthy, it is vital to eat a balanced diet. This means eating the right amount from different food groups. Too much may cause obesity and too little may cause malnutrition.

The World Health Organisation recommends getting at least half of your energy intake from carbohydrates and no more than 30% from fats. The organisation also recommends 400 grams of fruit and vegetables daily.

Nutrients

Nutrients are essential substances that the body needs. There are different types of nutrient, each with its own purpose:

  • Carbohydrates provide energy. They are found in bread, potatoes, rice and pasta.

  • Lipids (fats and oils) provide energy. Lipid-rich foods include butter and chips.

  • Proteins provide materials to make new cells and to repair damaged tissues, such as muscles. Beans, eggs, fish, meat and milk are high in protein.

  • Vitamins are vital in many processes. For example, vitamin K helps blood to clot and vitamin C prevents illness. Fruit and vegetables are vitamin-rich.

  • There are 16 essential minerals. These include iron, used to transport oxygen in the blood, and calcium, used in making bones and teeth.

Fibre

Fibre is not a nutrient. It cannot be absorbed by the body and contains no calories or vitamins, however it is necessary for a balanced and healthy diet.

Fibre adds bulk to food, and helps it to pass through the digestive system. Fibre also prevents constipation and heart disease.

Fruit, vegetables and wholegrain cereals are high in fibre.

Water

Around 70% of human body mass is water. Chemical reactions in cells take place in water and the blood transports substances dissolved in water.

Drinking water frequently replaces the water lost in urine, sweat and breathing out.

Test your knowledge

Quiz - Nutrition

Find the food group