Eating a balanced diet is an essential part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In order to keep a healthy diet, however, it is important to know the basics of nutrition and how certain nutrients benefit your body.
Part of maintaining a nutritious diet includes getting the right amounts of food from each food group. There are five main food groups:
• Grain group: Whole grains contain fiber which help your body’s digestive system.
• Fruit group: These provide your body with important vitamins and antioxidants.
• Vegetable group: Like fruits, these are a good source of essential vitamins.
• Dairy group: These foods include milk, cheese, and yogurt and provide your body with calcium that is important for ensuring cell function and healthy bones.
• Protein group: This group is essential to the body because it is needed to create hormones and enzymes as well as maintain bones, muscle, and other parts of the body. This group includes meat, fish, eggs, nuts, and certain beans. When it comes to protein, however, it is best to look for lean cuts of meat which are low in fat and will help you maintain a healthy weight.
Good nutrition and a balanced diet is important because it ensures that the body is getting all of the vitamins and nutrients that it needs to function in a healthy way. Important vitamins from foods include:
• Vitamin A: provides nourishment for teeth, bones, skin, and other soft tissues
• Vitamin C: promotes a healthy immune system and aids in the healing process
• Vitamin D: this is created by the body after exposure to sunlight and helps the body to absorb calcium
• Vitamin E: helps form red blood cells which carry oxygen to other cells and are essential to the respiratory system
The number of daily servings from each food group and the recommended amount of vitamins a person consumes varies depending on age, size, and other factors. You can find more information about what your specific body needs by going to this website: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/myplate/index.aspx.
Jaime Venditti, State Coordinator, New York Health Works