Tips For a Healthy Diet

healthy diet

A healthy diet is the mainstay of good health and can protect against many chronic non-communicable diseases. A healthy diet is characterised by a wide variety of foods, reducing the amount of added sugars and salt, while including whole grains, lean meats and fish and having a moderate intake of fats (especially unsaturated fats). Fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products and fish are key food groups that should be a staple of everyone’s diet.

Keeping a variety of healthy snacks and meals on hand makes it easier to avoid unhealthy options when hunger strikes. Having items on hand such as sliced vegetables, a frozen dinner made with whole grains, pre-cooked grilled chicken, canned beans and low-fat yogurt can cut down the temptation to hit the drive-thru or grab fast food.

Eat a variety of foods from all the major food groups each day. Try to make at least half of your meals vegetable-based. This will help reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure and certain cancers.

Choose low-fat protein foods such as lean meats, fish, poultry, eggs and nuts. Avoid red and processed meats as they are high in saturated fat and sodium (salt). Choose low-fat dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese. Ensure you have a diversity of plant-based fats such as olive, canola and soy oils, as well as nuts and seeds.

Try to eat at least five portions of fruits and vegetables per day. This will provide important nutrients such as potassium and fibre. Having at least five serves of fruit and vegetables will also reduce your risk of cancer, obesity and high blood pressure.

Include a variety of foods rich in vitamins and minerals such as whole fruits, vegetables, a variety of whole grains, nuts and seeds and lean proteins. Aim for a balance of these foods and keep in mind that it is fine to have treats occasionally.

Reduce saturated and industrially-produced trans-fats and use unhydrogenated vegetable and nut oils instead. These oils are healthier and have a more neutral effect on blood sugar levels than animal fats such as butter, ghee, lard and shortening.

Eat at least six to eight glasses of fluids each day. Water is best but other beverages, such as herbal teas and low-fat milk, are also good choices. Avoid high-sugar drinks such as soda and fruit juice; limit these to one small glass a day.