A well-balanced diet means eating the right amount of nutrients to supply the body with the energy it needs to function properly. It also means getting the right amount of nutrition to support growth and development. A well-balanced diet contains nutrient-rich foods from all the food groups. People who follow a well-balanced diet feel better and are in better health, says the American Dietetic Association.
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Growth and Development
A well-balanced, healthy diet helps kids grow and learn. It also prevents obesity, says the National Institutes of Health's -- NIH -- Medline Plus website. A balanced diet to support growth and development for children includes five servings of fruits and vegetables daily; lean proteins such as lean meats, nuts and eggs; whole grains for fiber; and milk for calcium and protein.
A well-balanced diet helps with weight control, says the website Helpguide.org. Calories are an important component of the well-balanced diet, says the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Calorie needs depend on age, activity level and weight goals. A well-balanced diet includes low-calorie, nutrient dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. These foods satisfy hunger while meeting nutrient needs in fewer calories to help maintain a healthy weight.
Calories are the amount of energy stored in food. According to Medline Plus, a well-balanced diet provides the right amount of energy while maximizing nutrient intake. The foods consumed provide energy, along with vitamins and minerals, for the body’s cells, organs and muscle tissue. People who eat a well-balanced diet are more physically motivated and able to think more clearly, Medline Plus says.
Reduced Risk for Illness
The right foods reduce the risk for chronic disease, says the Helpguide.org website. People who eat diets high in fats are at an increased risk for developing heart disease, diabetes and cancer, says FamilyDoctor.org, a website of the American Academy of Family Physicians. A well-balanced diet that includes foods high in vitamins A, C and E; selenium; potassium; fiber; and essential fatty acids will help protect against chronic disease.
A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and high-quality meats and fish may help prevent depression and anxiety, says the study "Association of Western and Traditional Diets With Depression and Anxiety in Women," published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. This large cross-sectional study conducted in Australia concluded women who eat a well-balanced diet were less likely to develop depression. The study also showed people who eat a diet high in refined flours, processed food and saturated fat were at a greater risk for developing depression.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- National Institutes of Health Medline Plus: Child Nutrition
- Helpguide.org: Healthy Eating
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans
- AJP; Association of Western and Traditional Diets With Depression; Felice N. Jacka
- Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand