The Importance of Balanced Nutrition

A well balanced diet forms the foundation of leading a healthy lifestyle. The US Department of Agriculture recommends filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables, one quarter with grains and another quarter with protein (eg meat, fish) and dairy.


Eating a balanced diet provides the nutrients needed to fuel your body. It also helps prevent disease and improves mental health.


Carbohydrates, along with protein and fats, are one of the three macronutrients your body needs to survive. Carbohydrates are sugar molecules and they provide energy for your cells, tissues and organs. The body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, which the body uses for fuel.

Generally, most of the carbohydrates you consume should come from complex carbohydrates, such as starches from grains, legumes and cooked vegetables, and naturally occurring sugars, such as those found in fruits and milk. You should limit your intake of added sugars to less than 10% of your calories.

A balanced diet includes a variety of foods from all food groups, including carbohydrates. Choosing carbohydrates that offer vitamins, minerals and fiber, while avoiding those that are high in saturated and trans fats, is important for good health.


Proteins are vital for muscle, blood cells and hormone and enzyme production. They are especially important during growth and periods of illness. A balanced diet provides enough protein without the need for supplements.

Most animal foods (meat, fish, eggs) are good sources of protein and contain all the amino acids needed by the body. Plant foods – beans and lentils, nuts, seeds, whole grains – also provide protein but they do not contain all the essential amino acids.

Balanced nutrition means eating a wide variety of healthy foods from the five food groups – fruits, vegetables, dairy, protein and grains. This helps to ensure you get all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to stay strong and healthy. It can also help you maintain a healthy weight and prevent disease.


Fats provide energy and help you feel full after a meal. In addition, fats are needed to absorb certain vitamins, including vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin E.

Current health guidelines advise limiting saturated fats, which are found in foods like red meat, poultry and some dairy products, and replacing them with unsaturated fats such as vegetable oils and spreads, nut butters and avocado.

Unsaturated fats are also a source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce your risk of heart disease. They are found in foods like avocados, peanut butter and olive, canola, safflower and sesame oils.


Vitamins are organic substances necessary in small amounts for your body to function properly and stay healthy. They regulate reactions that occur at a cellular level, and long-term vitamin deficiency can cause disease.

Most people should be able to get all the vitamins they need by eating a healthy diet. However, some may require vitamin supplements.

The human body requires 13 essential vitamins. They can be grouped into two categories based on their action in the body: fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the liver and fatty tissues for use when needed; excess is excreted in urine.


Minerals are inorganic substances with a crystal structure that form naturally on the Earth. They have a wide range of physical properties that make them unique, including color, lustre and hardness. Minerals also have a variety of chemical compositions, with some minerals containing only a single element and others containing a mixture of elements.

Some minerals have a unique property, such as radioactivity or the ability to generate electricity. This is due to the way the elements are arranged within the mineral.

The body needs a wide variety of minerals for healthy function and optimal immune system function, including inflammation regulation. The requirement for the most important minerals is usually met through a balanced diet. However, some people are at risk for deficiency and should consider nutritional supplementation.