A nutritious diet involving healthy foods is the key to good health. Food nutrition plays a vital role in ensuring one’s well being. Healthy food comprising of vital nutrients promotes good health, whereas food which is unhealthy leads to a diseased body. “After all, we are what we eat.” A healthy diet apart from ensuring good health helps to fight against many chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer. A poor diet has an adverse effect on our body leading to many serious diseases like cardiovascular diseases and obesity.
No single food can nourish our body. It is very important to include a variety of healthy foods in our daily diet. The main food groups which provide vital nutrients to our body are:
• Fruits: “Fruits have the distinction of being called "nature's own desserts."” Fruits are rich in carbohydrates. Apart from providing vitamins and minerals, they have no cholesterol and have little or no fat and sodium. They contribute fiber and lots of nutrients to our diet, without adding lots of calories. Peaches, apricots, cantaloupes, mangoes and watermelon are excellent sources of carotene; carotene helps to fight against cancer. Oranges and other citrus fruits are the excellent sources of Vitamin C; Vitamin C helps to fight against serious lung infections and increases iron consumption from foods. Dried fruits like raisins, dates and dried apricots are excellent sources of iron and potassium.
• Vegetables: Vegetables contain many vital nutrients that are very essential for our body. A diet without vegetables can lead to many serious health ailments. Adequate amounts of different kinds of vegetables increase the immunity of our body. Diet full of green vegetables lowers the risk of many serious ailments like stroke, heart diseases and even cancer. Especially, children should be fed with adequate amounts of vegetables.
• Cereals and Pulses: Cereals and pulses are good sources of thiamin, phosphorous and niacin. They contain sufficient amount of protein. They are the most economical and healthiest food on earth. Therefore, they are often said as ‘poor man’s meat’. Though pulses are deficient of Vitamin C, but sprouted pulses are excellent sources of Ascorbic acid. They form the main ingredients of a nutritious food.
• Dairy: Milk and other dairy products are very good for health. Whole milk is relatively very low in fat. It is an excellent source of calcium which strengthens our bones and muscles. Yoghurt is rich in Vitamin B2. The living bacteria in the yoghurt are extremely beneficial for our digestive system.
• Poultry, Fish and Meat products: These products contain whole proteins which are the building blocks of our life. Proteins provide a lot of energy when carbohydrates or fats are not available. They play a major role in building and repairing of body tissues. These products are a good source of hemoglobin, zinc, phosphorous, niacin, selenium, Vitamin B12 and B6.
A diet containing all the above food groups is known as the balanced diet. Intake of variety of these food groups will not only ensure good health, but will also boost our immunity. They are the ideal sources of food nutrition.