healthy eating plate

Guide to Building a Balanced Plate Overview – Healthy Eating Plate

A balanced plate or a balanced diet includes foods from five groups that could fulfill all your nutritional needs. Eating a diet that contains all the healthy foods could help you maintain good health whilst reducing the risk of disease.

With scientific advances, dietary guidelines evolve so, it can be quite challenging to stay at the top of current recommendations and also know the right foods to eat. This article will take a close look at how we can build a balanced plate but first, what is a balanced plate?

Also known as a balanced diet, it helps to fulfill all of a person’s nutritional needs. By eating a balanced plate, you can get the nutrients and calories your body needs and avoid junk foods or those without any nutritional value.

Before pondering on ingredients that should fall into portions of your plate, you should understand that foods with similarities in nutrients can be grouped.  But, what foods should you eat? Below are some that you should include in your diet.

Related: 12 Tips for a Sustainable and Healthy Diet

healthy eating plate

Make Most of Your Meal Vegetables and Fruits – ½ Your Plate

½ of your plate should be filled with vegetables as they are an important source of nutrients, including dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), potassium, vitamin C and vitamin A. Moreover, they are low in calories so, most health experts recommend that they are to be consumed daily. There is even a scientific consensus that a balanced, rotating diet of varieties of vegetables is one of the best ways to source nutrients from your food at an early age. To enjoy a plate of vegetables, ensure to include a variety of different colors, in particular dark greens, reds and oranges.

On the other hand, fruits are packed with a variety of amazing nutrients, including folate (folic acid), potassium, vitamin C, and dietary fiber. On a daily basis, make sure you consume fruits even if they contain just ½ of your plate. You can snack on them or have them as dessert.

Vegetables and fruits on white Premium Photo

What is their importance in diet, what are their examples?

Due to the fact that fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of essential minerals and vitamins, they are high in fiber and provide you with a wide range of health-boosting antioxidants.  They can significantly reduce your risk of developing chronic disease and inflammation, lower blood pressure, lower the risk of heart disease, help with diabetes control and even improve digestive health among others.

Some examples of vegetables in various beautiful colors are green cabbages, red tomatoes, purple cauliflower, yellow bell peppers, white turnips and mushrooms. These are vegetables you can enjoy with any variety of food.

 You can eat fresh fruits, canned fruits or frozen fruits. Also, you can eat it whole, cut-up, or pureed. Some examples of fruits you can try are blackberries, oranges, pomegranate, white peaches, grapefruit, mango, banana, and pineapple to mention but a few.

However, you should limit your portions of fruit juice or dried fruit. They are higher in calories, easy to over-consume and deliver more sugar.

Go for Whole Grains – ¼ Your Plate

Foods that are rich in healthy carbs include whole grains and starchy vegetables. Such foods provide you with a lot of nutrients including several B vitamins (niacin, folate, riboflavin and thiamin), dietary fiber, and minerals like selenium, potassium, iron and magnesium.

whole grains

What is their importance in diet, what are their examples?

Healthy carbs like whole grains are your body’s main source of energy and they help fuel your brain, central nervous system and muscles. They also aid easy digestion and help to keep your cholesterol levels in check. Generally, it is recommended that people consume between 45-65% of their total calories in form of carbohydrates on a daily basis. At least ¼ of your plate should contain whole grains.

Some examples of whole grains you can enjoy are rolled oats, whole wheat, millet, farro, brown rice, barley. You can also try healthy grain products like tortillas, breakfast cereals, and 100-percent whole-wheat bread.

Remember to limit your intake of refined grains like pasta, white rice, white bread, and products made from white flour.

Protein Power – ¼ Your Plate

Your plate should also contain at least ¼ of lean protein. This protein provides B vitamins (thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, and B6), zinc, iron, and magnesium.

protein in healthy eating plate

What is their importance in diet, what are their examples, what should be limited?

Lean protein helps you build muscles, lose weight, support the immune system, provide your body with vitamin B, increase metabolism, lower blood pressure, reduce cravings and snacking and build and repair cartilages, skin, bones and blood.

Foods that provide you with a high level of protein include animal products such as eggs, meat, and dairy, plant proteins like beans, soy and lentils. To enjoy proteins try different animal seafood including lean meats, poultry, eggs, low-fat dairy. You could also enjoy plant proteins like tofu, edamame, tempeh, and soymilk.

Cut down the intake of fatty cuts of meats and processed meats like hot dogs, sausages, bacon and salami.

Healthy Fats – in moderation

Always remember to add a small dollop of healthy fats. Oils that are derived from plants essentially provide you with mono- and polyunsaturated fats and even vitamin E. A lot of people try as much as possible to stay away from fats due to cholesterol but opting for healthy fats could provide you with nutritional benefits.

healthy fats

What is their importance in diet, what are their examples, what should be limited?

Healthy fats promote the normal function of the nervous system and the brain lowers cholesterol in the body, supports heart health and reduces inflammation in the body.

Some amazing examples of foods with healthy fats to choose from are nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, chia seeds. Make sure to cook plant oils that are liquid at room temperature, such as avocado oil, extra-virgin olive oil, and nut and seed oils.

Try as much as possible to stay away from fats that are solid at room temperature, including butter, lard, bacon grease, palm oil, shortening and coconut oil. All of these can raise your “bad” LDL cholesterol.

Healthy Eating Plate is to Focus on Diet Quality

The main reason for eating a balanced plate is to gain a wide range of nutritional benefits and be in good health. Basically, the focus is on diet quality. Below are some tips for a healthy eating plate.

  •         The type of carbohydrate in a diet is more important than the amount of carbohydrate in the diet because sources of carbohydrates like beans, whole grains and fruits are more important than others
  •         The healthy eating plate also advises consumers to stay away from sugary beverages, a major source of calories with little or no nutritional value.
  •         Consumers are also encouraged to make use of healthy oils, and this does not set a maximum on the percentage of calories that you should consume daily from healthy fat sources.

Summary Tips

  •         Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables
  •         Base your meals on higher fiber carbohydrates
  •         Cut down your intake of saturated fats and sugar
  •         Drink enough water
  •         Eat less salt

In conclusion, never forget that a consistent intake of healthy foods keeps the doctor away. Ensure to always eat healthy foods in the right portions to remain in great health.

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