You are what you eat, which is why you should make sure to eat a healthy, balanced diet every day. A diet which is balanced in the proper way is one which consists of healthy amounts of the common five food groups. You may be unsure as to what these food groups are, let alone how much of each you should be getting on a daily basis, and what counts as a full serving. Whether you remember learning about the food pyramid in elementary school or not, now is as good a time as any to get a refresher on some basic food and diet facts.
Grains make up the bulk of many cultural diets, and for good reason. Common grains include oats, rice, wheat, bread, and pasta, for starters. When these foods are consumed in their natural state as whole grains — as opposed to being stripped and refined of their nutrients during the packaging process — the body greatly benefits. Whole grains provide healthy amounts of fiber and protein, which are essential for keeping energy levels up and blood pressure levels stable. Generally speaking, one serving is equivalent to a half-cup of most grains, or 1 slice of whole grain bread.
Many people assume protein can only be found in meat, but there are a lot more resources than you may have realized. Eggs, beans, legumes, nuts, and soy products can all provide the protein your body needs to build strong muscles. This is important to know even if you aren’t vegetarian or vegan, since red meat is best consumed sparingly due to its high fat content. Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna are the best bet in terms of lean protein provided from a meat product.
True dairy products contain high amounts of calcium; these include milk, yogurt, and cheese. Products such as ice cream and cream cheese do not count as legitimate sources of dairy, since they have been processed and stripped of much nutritional content. Adding a cup of yogurt as your breakfast or daily snack can provide a third of your daily serving of calcium.
This food group is pretty self-explanatory. Try your best to get whole fruits into your diet, as opposed to solely mixing them in smoothies or juices.
Leafy greens such as spinach and kale are some of the most nutrient-rich veggies you can get in your diet, but tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, and broccoli are just a few more options for you to start adding to your meals.
Fat, Sugar, Oil
These should be used sparingly, if at all. The fats found in avocados and olive oil are good for you; the fats found in cookies and chips are generally not so much.
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