If you eat enough of the right foods you give your body the best chance to perform at its optimal level. You will have fuel to perform daily activities, have a steady supply of important nutrients, be able to grow and repair tissue, reinforce your immune system, lower your risk of chronic lifestyle diseases, allow your brain to function at optimal levels, and keep your bones and teeth intact.
Also, if you follow a healthy, balanced diet, it will be easier to keep your weight in check.
Eating healthily is relatively simple. You just need to:
- Eat a wide variety of foods.
- Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and 2 portions of vegetables per day.
- Reduce your fat intake, particularly your intake of saturated fats and trans fatty acids.
- Ensure an adequate intake of mono- and certain poly-unsaturated fats (for example olive oil, avocados and nuts).
- Include 2 - 3 portions of dairy in your diet every day.
- Reduce your intake of high-cholesterol foods.
- Increase your fibre intake.
- Use sugar and foods high in simple carbohydrates (for example white bread or white rice) in moderation.
- Use less salt.
- Drink alcohol only in moderation.
- Drink at least 2 - 2.5 litres of water a day.
Healthy food choices include:
Fats, oils and nuts
Eat no more than three portions a day. A portion is one teaspoon of fat or oil. Choose from:
- Canola, olive and soya oils
- Almonds, pecan nuts, hazelnuts and peanuts, in moderation
- Chia seeds
If you aren't able to include 3 portions in your diet, consider an omega-3 and magnesium supplement to get your daily dose of good oils. This will provide your body with essential fatty acids it needs for heart health, muscle function & brain health.
Meat, fish and poultry
Eat 2 -3 portions a day. A portion is about the size of your palm (no thicker than your "pinky" joint). Choose from:
- Lean red meat cuts
- Kangaroo and venison
- Chicken without the skin
- Fish (at least twice a week)
- Tinned fish in water or brine (and not in oil)
Lentils and dry beans
Try to include more of these fibre-rich foods in your diet:
- All types of lentils, peas and beans
- Baked beans and other tinned beans
Eggs are very nutritious, always available and easy to cook quickly. Did you know that eggs contain good quality protein and omega-3, plus 10 vitamins and minerals? They are an essential part of any healthy eating plan and also provide a quick delicious snack when time is short. Remember that poached and boiled eggs are better than fried eggs as they haven't been prepared in oil. The Australian Heart Foundation recommends that you can enjoy up to six eggs, each week as part of a healthy balanced diet.
Milk and dairy products
Include 2-3 portions of dairy in your diet every day. Good options are:
- Low-fat and skim milk
- Low-fat and fat-free yoghurt
- Low-fat and fat-free cottage cheese
- Reduced-fat cheese
Breads and cereals
Carbohydrate foods are essential in terms of your body's daily energy needs. You can have between 4 - 6 portions per day and a portion is a slice of bread, two crackers, or half a cup of cooked rice, pasta or cereal. Go for:
- Brown bread, wholewheat bread or low-GI bread
- Oats and oat bran
- High-fibre, low-fat breakfast cereals
- Low-fat wholewheat crackers
- Brown rice and durum-wheat pasta
Fruit and vegetables
The suggests that you aim to eat a variety of at least 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit every day. Fruit and vegetables contain lots of fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.Go for a wide variety, but use avocados and olives in moderation. Include fruit in your breakfast, try snacking on raw veggies or fruit, and add a serve of vegetables to each main meal.Always choose fresh rather than canned or dried fruits and vegetables, and limit your intake of fruit juices as these are high in sugar.
Your number-one beverage choice should be water. But it's also okay to get your 2 - 2.5 litres of water per day by drinking unsweetened tea or coffee, and unsweetened cool drinks. Once again, try to limit your intake of fruit juice or try to dilute it with ice, water or cold herbal tea.
If you drink alcohol, have no more than two drinks a day (1 drink = 340ml beer or 120ml wine or 25ml spirits).
Use the following foods only sparingly:
Saturated fats and oils
- Hard brick margarine, brick cooking fat, lard
- All fried food
Meat, fish and poultry
- Fatty beef, pork and mutton
- Processed meats, like salami and pastrami
- Organ meats, such as tripe, liver and kidneys
- Tinned meat and pies
- Take-out, such as fried chicken and hamburgers
- Deep-fried foods
Milk and milk products
- Full-cream milk
- Condensed milk
- Cream, artificial cream, coffee and tea creamers
- Full-fat ice cream and yoghurt
- Full-fat cheeses
Breads and cereals
- White bread and rolls
- Refined breakfast cereals
Salted, high-fat savoury snacks
- Biscuits, cakes, puddings, chocolates, fudge, etc
- Crisps, corn crisps, and other savoury snacks
For more information, head to http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/healthy-eating/
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