Diet Food Choices – Making Healthy Choice
Food is any material consumed to supply the body’s essential nutrients. Food is generally of animal, plant or fungi origin, and usually contains various essential nutrients, including proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates, fats, and minerals. The human body requires around 1200 calories of food a day to keep the metabolism active. Although the quantity of food consumed by humans varies on different days, the food intake remains about the same throughout the week.
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy in the diet, providing about 80% of the daily energy. Fats make up another percentage, with about ten percent coming from carbohydrates and the rest from protein. The rest come from vitamins, minerals, water and other nutrients. Some of the common food groups are:
Carbohydrates are a group of complex substances that include sugars and starches. They are available in many forms such as breads, cereals, pasta, potatoes, rice and fruit. They can be digested easily and metabolised to energy through the body’s system. However, excess carbohydrates can lead to weight gain and other health problems if consumed in large quantities. A balanced diet is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle, and avoiding refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta and sugar can contribute to a healthy dietary fibre intake.
Proteins are the building blocks of the body, and they are also an important part of dietary fibres. There are two types of protein: non-essential and essential. Both are vital for nutrition but each type can be found in varying proportions in the typical Western diet. Non-essentials contain fatty acids that are not essential to good nutrition, while essential proteins are the building blocks of life and therefore should be eaten in sufficient quantities. The average person needs about five grams of carbohydrates per day for optimum health and the recommended level is three grams per meal.
Fats are another area where many people get confused when it comes to eating healthily. Fats are an important source of energy and in many ways are just as important as carbohydrates. However, because they are commonly thought to be bad for you they are often omitted from diets in the hope that simply eliminating carbohydrates will make a meal that much healthier. The problem is that although fats can be a good source of energy they are a poor source of nutrition and should only be included in small amounts.
It is important to eat foods that provide good sources of both carbohydrates and fats, and this can be done simply by substituting foods that are high in calories with low-fat alternatives. For example, a glass of skimmed milk instead of whole-milk milk is an excellent substitute for meats that are high in carbohydrates. Also, nuts and some dairy foods such as yoghurt and butter are excellent sources of protein. Other food groups that are high in sugary foods include citrus fruits, some berries and the majority of baked and boiled foods.