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Balanced Diet

A balanced diet is one that will provide you with nutrients in the amounts necessary for good health.

The key to a balanced diet is to enjoy a variety of foods from the five core food groups, and to limit your intake of foods and drinks that are high in saturated fat, sugar and salt.

The 5 food groups

The Australian Government has defined the five food groups as:

1. Vegetables and legumes/beans

Include a variety of different types and colours every day. Aim for 5 serves daily.

Main nutrients they offer include beta-carotene, vitamin C, folate and dietary fibre.

Over the week include the following in your diet:

  • Dark green or cruciferous vegetables eg spinach, bok choy, broccoli, Brussel sprouts
  • Orange vegetables eg sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots
  • Salad vegetables eg lettuce, tomato, cucumber, capsicum
  • Starchy vegetables eg potato, sweet potato, corm
  • Legumes eg dried peas, lentils, chick peas

A serve is approximately 75 g or ½ cup cooked or 1 cup salad or ½ medium potatoes

2. Fruit

Include a variety of fresh, frozen, dried and/or canned fruits every day. Aim for 2 serves daily.

Fruit juice belongs in this group but best to limit to 1/2 cup a day as it has lost its fibre.

Main nutrients they offer include vitamin C and dietary fibre.

  • Pome fruits eg apples, pears
  • Citrus fruits eg oranges, mandarins, grapefruit
  • Stone fruits eg apricots, peaches
  • Tropical fruits eg bananas, mangoes, pineapple
  • Berries eg strawberries, blueberries
  • Other eg grapes

A serve is approximately 1 medium apple or 1 cup diced fruit or 30g dried fruit or 2 small plums.

3. Grains (cereal) foods

Include mostly whole grain (wholemeal) or high fibre types every day. Aim for 6 serves daily.

Wholemeal varieties are preferred as they provide more dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals than refined white types.

  • Main nutrients they offer include carbohydrate, protein, dietary fibre, iron thiamin, folate and iodine
  • Breads eg wholegrain, wholemeal, rye, pita, Naan, English muffins, Damper, Crispbreads
  • Breakfast cereals eg Ready to eat, muesli, oats, whole wheat biscuits, wholegrain flakes
  • Grains eg barley, buckwheat, bulgur, corn, cous cous, flours, millet, quinoa, rice, rye, semolina, sorghum, spelt, triticale, wheat, wheat germ
  • Other products eg crumpets, noodles, pasta, popcorn

A serve is 1 slice of bread or 1.2 roll, ½ cup cooked rice, pasta, barely, quinoa or 1/4 cup muesli, or 3/4 cup ready to eat cereal or 1 crumpet.

4. Lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts & seeds

Include a variety of lean meat, skinless chicken, oily fish and/ or alternatives. Aim for 2-3 serves daily.

  • Processed meats may be high in fat and sodium such as salami and should be limited.
  • Main nutrients they offer include protein, iron, zinc, long chain omega-3 fats, vitamin B12 (animal foods only)
  • Lean meats eg beef, kangaroo, lamb, lean sausages, pork, veal
  • Lean poultry eg chicken, duck, emu, goose, turkey
  • Eggs
  • Nuts & seeds eg almonds, Brazil, cashes, chestnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia, pine nuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, walntus; nut sreads, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds, tahini

A serve is 65g cooked leans meat (about 90-100g raw) or 80g cooked chicken (about 100g raw) or 100g cooked fish ( about 115g raw ) or small can of fish or 2 eggs or 30g nuts or 170g tofu.

5. Milk, yoghurt, cheese &/or alternatives

Include a variety of dairy or alternatives each day. Aim for 2-3 serves daily.

  • Best choices are reduced fat or skim types.
  • Main nutrients they offer include calcium, protein, riboflavin, and vitamin B12
  • Milk eg all long life milks, all reduced fat or full cream milk, buttermilk, evaporated milk, powdered milk, soy or other beverages, fortified with at least 100mgcalclum per 100ml.
  • Yoghurt eg allyoghurts including reduced fat or sull cream, soy yoghurt (calcium fortified)
  • Cheese eg Cheddar, Edam, Gouda, Ricotta, Soy cheese (calcium fortified)

…and Fats – Unsaturated spreads and oils

Include small amounts in cooking, in salad dressing or using as a spread. Aim for 2-4 serves daily. Monounsaturated fats eg cooking oils and spreads made from plants or seeds such as sunflower, canola, soybean, olive, sesame and peanuts; avocados, almonds, cashews, and peanuts

  • Polyunsaturated fats eg oily fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines and blue mackerel; tahini (sesame seed spread), margarine spreads, linseed (flaxseed), sunflower and safflower oil, pine nuts, walnuts and brazil nuts.

A serve is 10g (2 teaspoons) of polyunsaturated or monounsaturated spreads, 7g (2 teaspoons) polyunsaturated or monounaturated oil or 10g nuts, nut spreads,