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Balanced Diet: Why Is It Important?

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One of the most crucial attributes of a balanced diet is nutrition, which you may achieve by adding variety to your food.

Adding variety to your food will not just be the essence of nutrition, but will also amplify the spice of life and the vibrancy of the food you eat.

Moreover, a diet that consists of myriad food groups will help you to get all the nutrients in proportionate amounts.

The importance of adding variety to your diet is demonstrated by a balanced diet.

A balanced diet refers to a diet that could have different varieties of food in a certain proportion and quantity.

Having different varieties of food could help you to adhere to your requirement of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and calories.

Additionally, a balanced diet might even proffer you different bioactive fighter chemicals like antioxidants, nutrients, and dietary fiber.

These elements may in turn provide other positive health benefits to your body.

Specifically, a balanced diet will include food items from five groups that could help to adhere to your nutritional needs.

Since the dietary guidelines related to a balanced diet evolve with scientific advancements now and then, it might be a daunting task for you to stay ahead of the latest recommendations.

In this article, we will explain in detail the different attributes of a balanced diet. But before that, let’s know the meaning of a balanced diet.

What Is A Balanced Diet?

A balanced diet is a diet that is responsible to maintain[1] a healthy life by the infusion of all the necessary nutrients required[2] by the human body for its growth and development.

As the name of this diet itself suggests, it aims at maintaining[3] the right balance of the nutrients of the body that could facilitate good health and growth.

These nutrients can include the right amount of minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, protein, and fats.

The major reason behind the development of a balanced diet is simply because there is no particular food group that could help to provide all the essential nutrients to the human body.

Due to the same reason, you must know the different food items which you may include[4] in your balanced diet and the proportion of these food items.

Hence, eating[5] a balanced diet will require a good amount of knowledge and planning.

Moreover, the quantity of nutrients that you may require from your balanced diet is based on several factors.

These factors may vary from physical activities that you are engaged in, to your sex, age, and overall health.

At the same time, the basic components of a balanced diet might also modify from country to country, depending on the food items that are available in that particular country.

Generally, it may be recommended[6] that you get around 50 to 60% of your calories from carbohydrates, specifically complex carbohydrates.

Whereas, 10 to 15% of the calories are from protein, and 20 to 30% of the calories are from invisible as well as visible fat.

When you adhere to these figures, then you could receive, not just the nutrients but also other non-nutrients that might provide certain positive health effects.

These non-nutrients may include[7] dietary fiber or the antioxidants like vitamin E, vitamin C, selenium, or beta carotene that could protect your body from free radical damage.

Components Of A Balanced Diet

A balanced diet has different components that are based on the nutrients it provides to the human body.

Generally, the food that we consume gets broken down into simpler substances referred to [8] as nutrients.

These nutrients could be easily absorbed and utilized by your body to give it the required energy.

Generally, a balanced diet has two major components namely, the nutritive and non-nutritive components.

  1. Nutritive Components

    As the name itself suggests, the nutritive components[9] of a balanced diet aim at providing energy and calories to the human body to help it to function.

    The nutritive components will provide some nutritional value to your body.

    These components may be generally classified[10] into two major groups, namely, the macronutrients or the major nutrients and the micronutrients or the minor nutrients.

    • Micronutrients

      The name of these nutrients is quite self-explanatory because they may be required[11] by your body in just small amounts.

      The major elements included in the minor nutrients of the micronutrients are minerals and vitamins.

      These elements are extremely crucial for the normal functioning of the human body, but they may just be required in small amounts.

      But you must get this small amount of minor nutrients like minerals and vitamins because they help to facilitate different chemical reactions in the body.

      Let’s know about both these elements in detail.

      • Vitamins: With a plethora of crucial functions, vitamins are organic substances that are important[12] for life and health.

         

        Generally, Vitamins might be divided into two major groups known as water-soluble vitamins and fat-soluble vitamins.

        The water-soluble vitamins include vitamin B group and vitamin C on the other hand, the fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, E, D, and K.

        Each of these vitamins helps the body to perform some crucial functions, and deficiency of any vitamin might lead to different deficiency diseases.

        The human body cannot synthesize the vitamins on its own, so it may become crucial for you to get them from your balance diet.

      • Minerals: Minerals are other micronutrients that may be required[13] in very small amounts for the proper growth and function of the human body.

         

        The different types of minerals which you may get from your balanced diet include Iron, phosphorus, calcium, chlorine, zinc, sodium, magnesium, fluoride, iodine, potassium, and manganese.

        Each nutrient could be received from a particular food source and its deficiency may lead to certain diseases.

    • Macronutrients

      As the name itself suggests the macronutrients are required[14] in larger proportion by the human body.

      The different types of macronutrients or the major nutrients which you may aim at getting from your balanced Diet could include fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.

      • Fats: With nine kcal per gram, fats are a concentrated source of energy, which are made from fatty acids in different proportions.

         

        Dietary fats like oils, butter, etc come from two main sources, namely visible sources and invisible sources.

        The invisible fat is present in plant and animal foods, whereas the visible fat could be found in cooking oils.

        You must consume good quality fat in an adequate[15] amount which could provide you with the required polyunsaturated fatty acids.

        Moreover, the type of fat can even influence and regulate the level[16] of triglycerides and cholesterol in your body.

        The requirement of Fat for children and infants is particularly high because their energy requirement per body weight might[17] be twice as compared to those of adults.

        Due to this, adults may even need to restrict the consumption of saturated fats and cholesterol because excess of these substances may lead to different diseases like cancer, obesity, or cardiovascular diseases.

      • Carbohydrates: With nearly four kcal per gram, Carbohydrates are the major sources [18] of energy that you could receive from your balanced diet.

         

        Carbohydrates are generally classified[19] into two types, namely simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates.

        Different types of simple carbohydrates may be found in different sources, like lactose in milk, sucrose in sugar and glucose, and Fructose in vegetables, honey, and fruits.

        On the other hand, complex carbohydrates, namely the complex Polysaccharides like starch may be found[20] in pulses, cereals, millets, root vegetables, and glycogen in animal foods.

        Other than this, other complex Carbohydrates may be resistant to digestion and hence are referred to as the dietary fiber component.

        Dietary fiber reduces the absorption rate of carbohydrates and fats in the human body and hence amplifies the satiety value of the human body.

      • Proteins: Protein refers[21] to the complex molecules that may be formed from different amino acids.

         

        The human body contains[22] half the protein in the form of muscle, cartilage, and bone.

        You must get protein from your food because they are the primary functional and structural component of the human cell.

        The different amino acids are generally classified[23] into two types namely the Essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids.

        The essential amino acids cannot be synthesized in your body and hence you may need to get them from your diet.

        On the other hand, nonessential amino acids can be synthesized in the human body.

        The protein requirements may vary based on different factors like your age, stress, and even physiological status.

        The growing children, infants, and pregnant women are the people who have different stress or illness, so they may require[24] more protein as compared to other individuals.

    Now let’s have a glance at the non-nutritive components of a balanced diet-

  2. Non-nutritive components

    As the name itself suggests, the non-nutritive components of a balanced diet include the components that do not provide any nutritive value.

    There are different non-nutritive components that you may consume from your daily diet like highly processed food, and beverages like tea, coffee, and so on.

    These components may be found in different forms, like the flavor compound, color compound, roughage, fiber, water, a plant compound, and whatnot.

Summing It Up

Thus, this was all you need to know about a balanced diet. It is crucial that you eat a balanced diet and hence focus on the five major groups of food.

These major groups of food include protein, grains, vegetables, fruit, and dairy.

Eating a balanced diet has numerous advantages because this diet will provide you with all the required nutrients and hence help to keep the diseases at bay.

However, if you face difficulty to maintain a healthy diet then you may consult your health care provider.

References/Sources

Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.

  1. Healthy Eating. Available from https://www.nutrition.gov/topics/basic-nutrition/healthy-eating
  2. A balanced diet. Available from https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/balanced-diet
  3. Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight. Available from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/index.html
  4. Healthy Eating Plan. Available from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/eat/calories.htm
  5. Patrick J. Skerrett and Walter C. Willett. Essentials of Healthy Eating: A Guide. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2010 Nov-Dec; 55(6): 492–501. doi: 10.1016/j.jmwh.2010.06.019
  6. Shashank R Joshi, Anil Bhansali, Sarita Bajaj, et al. Results from a dietary survey in an Indian T2DM population: a STARCH study. BMJ Open. 2014; 4(10): e005138. Published online 2014 Oct 31. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005138
  7. 2Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and β-Carotene and Other Carotenoids: Overview, Antioxidant Definition, and Relationship to Chronic Disease. Available from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK225471/
  8. Basic Nutrition. Available from https://www.nutrition.gov/topics/basic-nutrition
  9. Hellas Cena and Philip C. Calder. Defining a Healthy Diet: Evidence for the Role of Contemporary Dietary Patterns in Health and Disease. Nutrients. 2020 Feb; 12(2): 334. Published online 2020 Jan 27. doi: 10.3390/nu12020334
  10. Nutrition Module: 2. Nutrients and their Sources. Available from https://www.open.edu/openlearncreate/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=315
  11. Micronutrient Facts. Available from https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/micronutrient-malnutrition/micronutrients/index.html
  12. Vitamins. Available from https://medlineplus.gov/vitamins.html
  13. Minerals. Available from https://medlineplus.gov/minerals.html
  14. Macronutrients. Available from https://www.nal.usda.gov/legacy/fnic/macronutrients
  15. Types of Fat. Available from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-and-cholesterol/types-of-fat/
  16. Triglycerides. Available from https://medlineplus.gov/triglycerides.html
  17. Jalpa K. Patel; Audra S. Rouster. Infant Nutrition Requirements and Options. Last Update: June 7, 2022. Available from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560758/
  18. Carbohydrates. Available from https://medlineplus.gov/carbohydrates.html
  19. Carbohydrates. Available from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/
  20. Complex carbohydrates. Available from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/imagepages/19529.htm
  21. What are proteins and what do they do? Available from https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/understanding/howgeneswork/protein/
  22. Protein. Available from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/protein/
  23. Amino acids. Available from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002222.htm
  24. Michelle A. Kominiarek. Nutrition Recommendations in Pregnancy and Lactation. Med Clin North Am. 2016 Nov; 100(6): 1199–1215.doi: 10.1016/j.mcna.2016.06.004

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