Your Guide to Healthy Eating

Food is any material consumed to supply protein to an organism for growth and maintenance. The food is generally of animal, plant or floral source, and has necessary nutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, or mineral ions. The diet may be vegetarian, but it should be well balanced with a sufficient supply of all the food groups. The food must also be allowed to absorb fully the minerals and nutrients to maintain good health, including the requirements of energy, muscle strength, endurance, and growth.

When we see food in its true light, it is the sum of its parts – the principal components that make it up. All the calories that we consume are made up of the energy derived from carbohydrates, the main source of energy for living creatures. Plants, animals and fungi all need carbohydrates to grow and produce food. Animal foods (meat) are rich in fats which provide a reserve of energy and are also necessary to digest and absorb the vitamins and minerals found in plant foods.

Carbohydrates come from plants and include starch, such as breads and pasta, which is made up of chains of glucose molecules, and sugars, which are sugar molecules linked together. These nutrients are used by the body for energy production, building and repairing cells, and for the production of the necessary substances for a healthy immune system. Fruits and vegetables are rich in these nutrients. Many of these foods are eaten on a daily basis without resulting in weight gain, yet they are still an important part of a healthy diet.

Vegetables are grouped into different types according to the way they are cooked and eaten. Grains (cereals) include rice, oats, pasta and breads; fruits include melons, berries, apples and pears; vegetables include green, leafy vegetables, root vegetables and potatoes; legumes include black beans and kidney beans; and milk products include cheese, butter and whole-grain cereals. When cooking vegetables, remember to use oil only to avoid adding fat to your food. Also, when eating a variety of different types of vegetables, eat at least four different kinds per day.

Fried foods, or deep-fried foods, are not good for your diet. The excessive consumption of fried foods, especially those that are high in fat, can have a negative effect on a person’s health. Fried foods contain too much fat and often times contain trans-fatty acids which are bad for the heart and other body parts. If you must fry your food, choose light oils such as olive oil, canola oil or corn oil instead. When buying deep-fried food, look for information on the Nutrition facts panel that will indicate the amount of saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and sugar contained in the deep-fried food. Do not be fooled by advertisements that state that a particular brand of deep-fried chicken or hamburger contains “low fat”, because they may not be low in fat, but may instead contain high levels of salt and other seasoning that adds to the nutritional deficiency.

You should also include fruits and vegetables in your daily meals because fruits and vegetables provide you with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetables are also helpful in lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, reducing symptoms of depression, improving circulation, strengthening the immune system, and assisting in weight loss. Include more fruits and vegetables in your diet and add them to your weekly meal plans.