7 Essential Food Groups for a Healthy Diet

Eating a balanced diet is essential for maintaining good health. It's important to include all seven components of a balanced diet in your daily meals: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber and water. Consuming the right amount of fruits and vegetables is key to reducing the risk of non-communicable diseases and ensuring an adequate daily intake of dietary fiber. Potassium can help counteract the negative effects of high sodium intake on blood pressure.

To increase potassium intake, eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Both adults and children should limit their intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake. Reducing total energy intake to less than 5% would provide additional health benefits. Eating too much free sugars can lead to tooth decay and unhealthy weight gain, which can result in overweight and obesity.

Recent evidence also shows that free sugars influence blood pressure and serum lipids, and suggests that a reduction in the intake of free sugars reduces risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The USDA dietary patterns provide the recommended amounts for each food group and subgroup at 12 different calorie levels, ranging from 1000 to 3200. It's important to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods and dairy products or alternatives to fortified soy. Age, gender, lifestyle and degree of physical activity, cultural context, locally available foods and dietary habits all play a role in determining what types of food you should be eating.

Vitamins are also essential for good health. Vitamin D, known as the sunshine vitamin, contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system, helps maintain strong bones and teeth, and supports muscle function. Governments have a central role in creating a healthy food environment that allows people to adopt and maintain healthy eating practices. It's also essential to eat the right portions and amounts.

Women need a minimum level of body fat to maintain menstrual function as fat cells secrete and store estrogen. Some of the food groups are further divided into subgroups to emphasize foods that are particularly good sources of certain vitamins and minerals. Gov offers numerous nutrition education resources based on food groups including tip sheets, videos, food group quizzes, infographics and more.

Elijah Rinner
Elijah Rinner

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