When we say that a healthy diet is important, what do we mean? A healthy diet is one that allows us to maintain a healthy weight, covers the requirements of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and water, according to the needs of our body, tastes, culture, lifestyle, physical activity, etc. So, the definition of a healthy diet is rather complex and differs from person to person. However, there are some general guidelines that apply to most people. For personal dietary advice, that fits your body and lifestyle, we recommend you seek advice from a dietician.
A healthy diet:
- Allows you to maintain a healthy weight
- Is varied and balanced
- Includes all required nutrients, vitamins, minerals and water that your body needs
Common recommendations include eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grain products, and choosing foods that are lower in saturated fat, salt and sugar. Although the details may vary between countries and cultures, the basic principles of a healthy diet remain the same.
Basic principles of a healthy diet, recommended by the World Health Organisation
- Keep salt intake to less than 5 g per day
- Avoid free sugars (e.g. added sugars). They should be less than 5% of your total energy intake
- Eat fruits, vegetables, legumes (e.g. lentils, beans), nuts and whole grains (e.g. unprocessed maize, millet, oats, wheat, brown rice) every day.
- Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day (at least 400 g). Potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava and other starchy roots are not classified as fruit or vegetables
- Red meat can be eaten 1−2 times per week (preferably less than 1x per week), and poultry 2−3 times per week.
- Use unsaturated fats (e.g. found in fish, avocado, nuts, sunflower, canola and olive oils. Limit the use of saturated fats (e.g. found in fatty meat, butter, palm and coconut oil, cream, cheese, ghee and lard).
Is eating a salad healthy? Yes, if it contains for instance a variety of vegetables, and some legumes or nuts. But what if we would eat the same salad every day, would we be having a healthy diet? No, a varied diet is important for healthy eating. Our cookbook recipes help you to try out something new, and keep your diet varied.
Do you want to know more? The European Food Information Council (EUFIC) has developed Food-Based Dietary Guidelines that have been established by many countries throughout Europe, tailored to national culture, food preferences, and food availability. You can find a lot of science-based information about healthy eating on their website: https://www.eufic.org/en/