Eating a well balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables is the way to optimise your health. As one would expect a sensible healthy diet comes down to well, being sensible and made up of variety of simple unprocessed foods.
For a balanced diet you need to select from the major food groups.
Meat, fish and other body building stuff
As well as animal protein in the form of meat, poultry, game and fish we also have in this group beans, nuts, seeds, soya and vegetable protein foods such as tofu, TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) and mycoprotein, and that little miracle in a shell, the egg. Two moderate portions a day from here should give you all that you need to repair cells, keep your locks flowing and your nails growing. Instant health, happiness and sexual attraction!
Fruits and vegetables
Too numerous to mention and all of them good for you. A diet high in fruit and vegetables will help prevent constipation and some scientific studies show that it can lower your chances of contracting heart disease and some cancers. Five or now seven portions a day is a good target and this can include fresh, frozen, dried, canned and juiced.
Cereals, grains, bread and potatoes
A quick look into any larder will reveal how much we depend on cereals and other grains to provide us with the bulk that we need to give us that pleasurable fullness we associate with having had enough to eat. In this food group we have rice in all its varieties, pasta and noodles, oats, bran, semolina, polenta, cous cous, and burghel (cracked wheat). Potatoes are the only foodstuff in this section that do not start life as a grain.
Milk, cheese, yoghurt and fromage frais are classified under the heading of dairy foods. Their greatest contribution to our diet is in supplying the calcium which is so important in building strong teeth and bones. If you have a genuine intolerance to the milk sugar lactose, you are vegan or you simply dislike milk or cheese then you will need to get calcium into your diet from other sources.
There are many products largely based on soya that are widely available. Goats milk and cheese can often be digested by those who have difficulty with cows milk and eating plenty of dark green leafy vegetables will help supplement your calcium intake.
Fats get a bad press but nonetheless have an important part to play in our diet. They are sources of concentrated energy which means that even modest amounts have a high calorific value but fats transport a number of vitamins around the body and cushion the internal organs. They also contain essential fatty acids and help make other food more palatable.
These are usually solid at room temperature. They include fats of animal origin such as lard, butter, whole milk and the fat on meat. Non animal saturated fats encompass certain kinds of margarine and hydrogenated fats. Hydrogenation is the process of turning liquid oil into solid fat that creates the trans fats which can raise levels of blood cholesterol.
The mania of dieticians and health and food fascists for taking the fat off meat and the skin off chicken also results in removing a lot of the flavour. Instead of banging on about fat on our meat, their concerns might be better placed educating the public about the dangers from the amount of antibiotics and other chemicals fed to the majority of the farm animals that end up on our plates.
These are normally liquid at room temperature. They include olive, sunflower, groundnut, sesame and soya oils as well as some soft margarines and spreads. They are also present in fish such as salmon, mackerel, pilchards, herrings and sardines.
Sugar has now be identified as the Big Bad One. As with fats, sugars are a concentrated form of energy and high in calories. Again it’s not necessarily the spoonful of sugar you put into your tea or coffee, unless you drink twenty cups a day, that is damaging but all the sugar that is hidden in ready made foods and in drinks. Beware, many processed foods and drinks labelled low fat are actually high, often very high, in sugar.