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What is a Healthy Balanced Diet?

According to the latest Dietary Guidelines For Americans (2005), the composition of a healthy balanced diet varies according to the calorie needs of the individual.

General Advice For Healthy Eating

  • Consume a variety of nutrient-dense foods and drinks among the basic food groups. Choose foods that restrict your intake of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, salt, and alcohol.
  • Follow a balanced eating pattern, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Guide or the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Eating Plan.

Specific Recommendations For a Balanced Diet

  • Consume an adequate amount of fruit and vegetables but stay within the correct calorie level for a healthy weight. For example, on a 1600-calorie diet, eat 1.5 cups of fruit and 2 cups of vegetables per day. Eat more or less according to your calorie needs. Eat a variety of fruit and vegetables each day. Choose from all five vegetable sub-groups (dark green, orange, legumes, starchy vegetables, and other vegetables) several times a week.
  • Consume 3 or more ounce-equivalents of whole-grain foods each day, with the rest of the recommended grains coming from enriched or whole-grain products.
  • Consume 3 cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products.
  • Regarding meat, poultry, dry beans, and milk or milk products, choose lean, low-fat, or fat-free options.
  • Eat less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fats including as few trans-fats (hydrogenated fat) as possible.
  • Maintain your total intake of fats/oils at between 20-35 percent of calories, with most fat coming from polyunsaturates and monounsaturates.
  • Eat lean meats and poultry. Bake, broil, or grill food. Eat a variety of protein rich foods, with more fish, beans, peas, nuts and seeds.

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