Tips For a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is important because it can help prevent certain diseases and conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. It can also help you feel more energetic and help you manage your weight. A healthy diet includes a wide variety of foods from each food group.

The main food groups are vegetables and fruit, starchy foods (potatoes, bread, cereals), protein foods (fish, poultry without skin, meat, pulses and nuts) and dairy foods. Choose milk and yoghurt with lower fat and less sugar, and look out for calcium-fortified versions of these products.

Try to include a mix of fresh, frozen and canned vegetables and fruit in your meals and snacks. Aim for at least five portions of a range of vegetables and fruit each day. A portion is 80g, or roughly a handful.

You can get your 5 A Day by eating a banana and a glass of milk at breakfast, having a salad with your sandwich at lunchtime, or adding some chopped veg to a bowl of pasta for dinner. If you eat out, look for healthier options such as a roast chicken sandwich with a baked potato instead of fries and a salad with reduced-calorie dressing.

Eating too much saturated fat can increase your cholesterol, which in turn can raise your risk of developing heart disease. You should try to cut down on the amount of fat you eat in general, and avoid trans-fats which are found in processed foods such as biscuits and cakes.

Regularly consuming too much salt can cause high blood pressure, which increases your risk of getting heart disease and stroke. Choose foods that are low in salt or, if you do eat processed meats, take the skin off them and trim the white fat from any cuts of meat.

It is important to eat a good source of protein, especially if you are physically active. A good source of protein is lean meat, fish, beans, eggs and unsalted nut or tofu.

It is recommended to eat oily fish at least twice a week, as it contains DHA omega-3 fatty acids and many other nutrients. If you eat seafood, opt for sardines, trout or salmon. You can also get protein from tofu, lentils and chickpeas. If you do eat animal products, choose lean meat such as chicken, turkey or mince, and limit the amount of fat you eat. Choose grilled or sauteed foods over deep fried, and cook using less fat such as by steaming or using cooking sprays. Try to limit the amount of salt and sugar you eat, and choose unsalted peanuts or other nuts, and unsalted or low-fat yoghurt as a snack. Avoid eating too many sugary drinks and keep a water bottle with you to make sure you stay well hydrated. You can add slices of lemon or lime to your drink for added flavour. If you do want to have a sweet treat, opt for a small piece of fruit or a low-fat yoghurt.