Fats, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals, and water are all necessities when it comes to diet and your health. There must, however, be a balance between all of these. The better the balance the healthier the diet. Variety, moderation, and adequacy must also be taken into account when implementing a balanced diet.
Meaning of Balance Diet
The MyPyramid guidelines set forth by the U.S department of Agriculture ask you to take in your nutrients form each of the major food groups in order to live a healthier life. It is for this reason that you should be wary of any diet that ignores any of these groups. People and a number of fad diets rush to omit grains at the risk of forgetting that they are rich in carbohydrates, dietary fiber, B vitamins, and minerals like selenium and magnesium. Water, potassium, Vitamins A, C and E are best taken in through the consumption of fruits and vegetables. Dairy provides a wealth of calcium, protein, Vitamin D, phosphorus and potassium, yet, finds itself a villain in many a diet. Whatever your ethical beliefs are regarding meat consumption, there is no denying the fact that they are rich in protein, iron, and zinc. The point is the MyPyramid is an optimal balance of that which you need to thrive and survive.
A smart shopper recognizes that the interior of the average supermarket is filled with potential pitfalls. For the most part, healthier foods are found on the periphery. The bakery is home to whole-grain breads while skim milk, cottage cheese, and yogurt along with fish and poultry generally ring the store. The bulk of your shopping should be done on the edges. When you are forced to the interior be sure to have a list of what you need in order to avoid impulse purchases of nutrient-poor processed foods that rear their heads as you wander around aimlessly. Sure you need coffee, baking products, and pasta (whole wheat), cleaning products, etc. but be wary of product placements that beg a place in your shopping cart without offering anything you need in return. Contrary to popular belief, a healthy diet is often a blessing to your wallet and food budget.
Plate division is the definition of balance when it comes to diet and provides a simple to follow visual towards balance. It’s quite clear when you are in balance, divide your plate into invisibly delineated thirds. For example, Breakfast should see a balance of fruit or vegetables, another third is donated to lean protein, and the to last whole grains. Finish with a glass of milk/juice or both. Job done. The variations are endless but the key is balance. There are studies that also suggest that a cornucopia of color aids in digestion and nutrient intake.
Healthy Eating and Its Factors
The most important part of the diet can be summed up in a single word, balance. The body is no different than a car, beyond the major differences, the point is changing your oil and ignoring the brake fluid is a bad idea at best. Excess and deficiencies in any area open you up to illness or chronic disease. An understanding of balance is the cornerstone of overall health.
This is quite simple. In order to lose weight you must burn more calories than you consume. While many will simply avoid eating as much, it is important to remember that calories provide energy and this fact cannot be ignored. Additionally, fat is generally the byproduct of excess calories unspent.
Muscle mass is built by protein and it is muscle mass that strengthens and tones your body for the efficient elimination of excess calories. Quite simply, as the primary component of human cells you need protein, but try to limit your proteins to leaner varieties such as fish, poultry (skinless), tofu and dried beans. Also, remember that while nuts and seeds provide protein they also bring a disproportionate amount of calories to the table.
The Benefits of Complex Carbohydrates
The body requires carbohydrates to function contrary to many diets’ suggestions otherwise. Carbohydrates bring a wealth of energy whether simple or complex. Simple carbohydrates like refined flour and sugar give you a shot of energy that burns quickly and consequently should not be a mainstay of the diet. Conversely, complex carbs found in fruit and vegetables as well as oats, and whole-grains are broken down considerably slower and provide a steady supply of energy that is better for the body while promoting digestion and lowering LDL’s or “bad” cholesterol.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Fats
The body doesn’t work without fat. Yet, it’s of paramount importance that you are taking in good fats. Fats produce hormones that are essential to the body, but the fats found in butter, non-lean meats and cheese are the saturated fats that should be avoided along with the trans-fats that are found in hydrogenated oils. Each is a primary factor in the production of “bad” cholesterol. And “bad” cholesterol will kill you if you don’t get hit by a bus first. The American Heart Association recommends that the calories in fat should stay below 30% of your daily caloric intake. Saturated fats should be kept to less than 7% and while they allow for 1% of your caloric intake to be trans-fats, what’s the point? Just eliminate them as many states and countries have through legislation. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as the ones found in salmon, seeds, and nuts are your best bet.
The importance of Vitamins and Minerals
Blood cells and bone are built with minerals. Minerals also help enzymes catalyze and support nerve function, equally important things in the realm of the human body. Vitamins are also essential to your health as they convert food into energy, boost the immune system, protect you from antioxidants and are necessary for proper blood clotting. There is no better way to ingest the vitamins and minerals the body needs than a balanced diet. That said, a multivitamin is not going to kill you and may help fill in the occasional gap.