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What is Good Nutrition?

What is Good Nutrition?

As with every science, nutrition is a work in progress, and scientists are constantly discovering new information. We have a good depth of knowledge on nutrition, but it remains a highly disputed science, particularly on the subject of diets, with many diet creators claiming theirs to be the best.

Thankfully, there are simple rules you can follow to achieve good nutrition, without worrying about following particular diets (although this can be a healthy option).

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are some of the most nutritious foods we can eat, so getting your daily allowance is an effective way to achieve good nutritional health. It’s recommended to eat two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables per day, with a serve being roughly 75g in weight (this ranges from half a cup to a cup for most). This includes non-fresh food such as tinned fruit and frozen vegetables—just look for items with no added salt or sugar.

Eat a variety of foods

Different food groups provide us with different vitamins and minerals, so we must have a well-balanced diet by eating a variety of foods. This not only keeps us in good health, but also protects us from chronic disease.

To achieve a well-balanced diet, we should eat food from the five main groups:

· Fruit
· Vegetables and legumes
· Grains such as rice, cereal, bread, and pasta (whole grain is healthier)
· Lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, beans
· Milk, yoghurt, and cheese

Avoid processed food

Processed food often contains high levels of salt, sugar, and unhealthy fat, which lead to serious health issues such as cancer, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. They also tend to have few healthy nutrients, and are high in calories.

Processed food can also be delicious, making them addictive. It’s ok to eat processed food occasionally, but it should be a treat rather than a regular part of your diet. Popular processed foods include:

· Bread
· Breakfast cereal
· Cheese
· Cakes and biscuits
· Soft drinks
· Chips and pies
· Processed meats
· Frozen meals

Eat the right types of fats

Not all fat is created equal. There are four types of fats that we need to think about: trans, polyunsaturated, saturated, and monounsaturated. Trans is awful for our health, polyunsaturated is fine in moderation, and saturated and monounsaturated fats are the two healthiest.

Limit red meat

When consumed in large amounts, red meat such as beef and lamb increases cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and risk of stroke2. The Heart Foundation recommends limiting red meat to less than 350g per week.

Limit sugar intake

Consuming high amounts of sugar increases the risk of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes risk, and inflammation. It may also increase your risk of cancer, depression, make you look older, and quickly drain your energy. Sugar-heavy foods include:

· Soft drinks
· Chocolate and candy
· Low-fat yoghurt
· Breakfast cereal
· Ketchup
· Fruit juice
· Protein bars

Try to swap out some of these foods with fruit — you’ll still get the taste of sweetness, but it’ll be much healthier for you.

What is the best diet?

If you’d prefer to follow a particular diet, these have shown to be the best for your health:

Low-carb, whole food diet—this diet helps you lose weight, lower your risk of disease, and be healthier all-round. As the name suggests, it focuses on eating fewer carbs and more whole foods.

Mediterranean diet—this diet has proven to be incredibly healthy, particularly for our heart. It includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, fish, poultry, whole grains, legumes, and extra virgin olive oil.

DASH diet —this diet was initially created to reduce the risk of heart disease. It includes plenty of vegetables, fruit, lean protein, and also restricts red meat, salt, added sugars, and fat.

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