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7 Things You Need in a Balanced Diet

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October 12, 2023

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is key to maintaining good health. A healthy diet doesn’t mean cutting out major food groups or imposing severe restrictions on what you eat. Instead, a healthy diet should involve eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions. A well-balanced diet can help you achieve and maintain a healthy body weight and overall feeling of wellness. Here are 7 things you should make sure to include in a balanced diet:

1. Fresh Vegetables & Legumes

A balanced diet must include fresh vegetables and legumes. These foods should make up the largest portion of your daily diet. It’s typically recommended that adults eat 5 to 6 servings of vegetables and legumes each day. One serving is equal to about ½ cup of cooked vegetables and legumes or 1 cup when eaten raw. Fresh vegetables provide the most nutrients, but frozen and canned vegetables are still better than none. Make sure to include a variety of vegetables and legumes to get a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Aim to eat different colors of vegetables throughout the day because each color offers different vital nutrients.

2. Fresh Fruits

fresh fruit

Fresh fruit is another necessary part of a balanced diet. Fruits are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It’s often recommended to eat 2 servings of fruit a day. One single serving can be a medium-sized piece of fruit, two small-sized pieces of fruit, 1 cup of diced, cooked, or canned fruit, or an ounce of dried fruit. ½ cup of 100% fruit juice also counts as a serving of fruit, but it lacks fiber and may contain extra sugars, so only drink it occasionally. Some great nutritious fruits to include in your diet are apples, blueberries, bananas, oranges, dragon fruits, pomegranates, grapefruits, and mangoes.

3. Lean Proteins

Your balanced diet should include foods high in protein. Foods like fish, meat, poultry, beans, nuts, seeds, eggs, and others are great sources of vitamins, minerals, and protein, which is an essential nutrient for your body to grow and repair itself. Whenever possible, it’s best to choose lean meats and skinless poultry to cut down on excess fat. It’s typically recommended that adults eat 2 to 3 servings of protein each day. A serving can equal roughly 3 ounces of poultry, 2 ounces of red meat, 3.5 ounces of fish, 6 ounces of tofu, 1 ounce of nuts or seeds, 1 cup of beans, or 2 eggs.

4. Whole Grains

whole grains

Another necessary component of a balanced diet is whole grains. Whole grains are good for you because they provide fiber and vitamins as well as energy for your body to function. It’s best to choose whole grains over refined and processed carbohydrates so you get more nutrients and fewer sugars from them. Great examples of whole grains include brown rice, rolled oats, whole wheat or whole grain breads, barley, buckwheat, and whole wheat pastas. Adults should eat 3 to 5 servings of whole grains each day. A serving size can be 1 slice of bread or ½ cup cooked rice, pasta, or other grains.

5. Dairy Products

Dairy products provide your body with calcium, protein, and vitamins. While plant-based dairy alternatives offer calcium, they often have less protein and vitamin B12 than dairy milk. If you substitute dairy products with plant-based alternatives, make sure you’re getting enough protein and vitamins from other sources. It’s recommended that adults consume 2.5 to 4 servings of dairy products each day. A serving can take the form of 1 cup of milk, ¾ cup of yogurt, 2 slices of cheese, or 1 cup of calcium-enriched plant-based milk.

6. Healthy Oils

olive oil

Contrary to popular belief, some fat is necessary in a balanced diet. Fats provide the body with essential fatty acids like omega-3s, which it can’t produce on its own. Fats also help your body absorb certain fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, and E. However, the fats you consume should come primarily from unsaturated oils to avoid raising bad cholesterol levels in your blood. These healthy fats can be found in oils from plants and fish. Healthy oils like those from olives, avocados, and nuts can be beneficial to consume in moderation.

7. Water

An essential part of any balanced diet is water. If you want to maintain a healthy diet, you should skip sugary drinks like soft drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, and sweetened powdered beverages. The best things to drink are water, tea, and black coffee. The only exceptions are one or two servings of milk and one serving of juice a day, but these do not replace the need to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Staying hydrated is key to maintaining health and well-being.

Learn More About Nutrition and Wellness with a Health Consultation
Now you know what you should eat each day to maintain a balanced diet. Sometimes, however, it takes more than just eating well to get all the nutrients your body needs. If you are interested in improving your health and wellness, our clinically trained pharmacists can help you figure out if you should add supplements to your wellness routine, and if so, which ones are best for you. Schedule a consultation today to get started on your health and wellness journey!