Many of us are aware that we need to revamp our diets by making healthier choices but it’s often difficult to understand what a ‘healthy approach’ actually means when it comes to making the right food choices. You may have heard the term ‘food groups’ and the importance of these foods given their ability to provide the essential vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, fibre, protein and carbohydrates you need to support your overall health and wellbeing.
Our simple guide to these key food groups will help you make the right choices when you’re stood in the supermarket with an empty basket or in the restaurant when you’re trying to choose the healthy option.
Vegetables are not only delicious but also supply essential vitamins, minerals and disease-fighting compounds so their importance in your diet cannot be understated. You should look to consume vegetables that have a low Glycaemic Index (Low GI) such as spinach and broccoli although some can come from starchier sources such as carrots and beetroot. Don’t skip the veggie section next time you’re in the supermarket.
The sweeter cousin of vegetables, we all know that fruit packs a real health punch when looking at all the different food groups. However, it shouldn’t be a free for all on any types of fruit you can get your hands on as many fruits like watermellon and grapes are very high in high GI sugars. opt for two servings per day from sources such as apples, bananas and oranges which are also naturally bursting with vital vitamin C.
Starch and grains should form the bulk of your energy intake each day but the sources you choose can make all the difference to both the way you look and feel. We recommend sticking to lower GI variants such as sweet potato, wholewheat pasta, oats and whole grains. Whole grains contain more nutrients and fibre than processed or refined grains. They support your appetite control while keeping you energised throughout your dietary approach.
Dairy provides many important nutrients such as protein, vitamins and minerals. Dairy products such as milk and cheese can help support stronger bones and bone density as well as supplying nutrient demands for active bodies. Milk and cheese are also a great source of calcium, widely known for it’s bone supporting properties.
Fats and oils
Although ‘fats’ and ‘oils’ don’t sound massively healthy, they are considered essential because your body is unable to produce them itself. It is important that you are consuming adequate levels of cholesterol lowering monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Sources of monounsaturated fats include avocados, cashew nuts, almonds and olive oil. Sources of polyunsaturated fats include fish, walnuts, brazil nuts and other seeds.
Protein foods traditionally sit in the meat, fish, eggs, poultry, nuts and seeds categories and provide important nutrients that are essential to the general health and maintenance of your body. Many protein foods such as poultry, meat and fish supply many nutrients including vitamin E, iron, zinc, magnesium and B vitamins. Proteins provide the building blocks for bones, cartilage, skin, blood and muscle so are extremely vital for your overall health.
You don’t have to be an expert nutritionist to understand what is good and what is bad for you. We always recommend having a good balance of everything in moderation but hopefully we can help you make better informed choices about the foods you put in your shopping basket the next time you are in the supermarket.