What are the different food groups?

There are five food groups. Each food group is important as our bodies need each food group. A healthy balanced diet consists of an intake of all five food groups. 

The five food groups:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Fruits & vegetables
  • Dairy
  • Protein
  • Fats & sugars

What are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are also known as grain products. Our bodies need carbohydrates for energy. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy and source of nutrients in our diet. We use this energy for exercise and other daily activities. Starchy food is the main source of carbohydrates. Examples of carbohydrates are pasta, bread, rice, etc. Not only do carbohydrates provide us with a source of energy, but they also provide us with iron, vitamins, calcium, and fibre. It is better to choose higher fibre wholegrain varieties as they take longer to digest; therefore, making you feel full for longer. Examples of whole grains are whole oats, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, wholemeal bread, chapatti, etc.  

What are fruits and vegetables?

Fruits are generally sweet and fleshy products grown on trees or other plants. Fruits are usually the means by which plants get their seeds out into the world. Examples of fruits are bananas, apples, and grapes. On the other hand, vegetables are herbaceous plants or parts of a plant that can be eaten. Examples of vegetables are broccoli, lettuce, spinach, etc. 

We need both fruits and vegetables as they provide us with important vitamins and minerals that help to keep our body working and help the body’s immune system. It is advised that you should eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. As well as vitamins and minerals, fruit and vegetables contain fibre which can help digestion, bowel movement, and lower cholesterol. Fruit and vegetables are low in fat so you can eat a lot without adding a lot of calories. However, it’s important to be mindful of how many fruits you eat as fruit contains a lot of natural sugars.

What are dairy products?

Dairy products are types of food made from milk. Dairy products are important because they are a source of protein and contain calcium. We need calcium for strong bones and teeth as they also contain other vitamins that we need for our body. Examples of dairy products are butter, cheese, yogurt, etc. It is better to choose lower-fat and lower-sugar products, for example, skimmed or semi-skimmed milk.  

What are proteins?

Protein is a nutrient found in food. It is made up of many amino acids joined together. Proteins help our body to grow and to repair. They also provide us with vitamins, minerals, and help to build muscle. Protein is also very important for normal cell structure and function. Examples of proteins are meat, eggs, beans, lentils, fish, etc. 

It is important to note that some types of meat and fish are naturally high in fat; therefore, eat within proportion. 

What are fats and sugars?

Fats and sugars don’t provide us with much nutrition, and the majority of people consume too much. Consuming large quantities of fats and sugars can cause health problems as they contain a lot of calories. Examples of butter, olive oil, and anything containing sugar. We should eat fewer fats, oils, salt, & sugar or choose healthier alternatives such as vegetable oil. 

Many foods contain a combination of good groups. Alongside making sure you have a balanced diet, you must make sure you drink plenty of fluids. Throughout the day, our bodies lose a lot of fluid through going to the toilet, breathing, and sweating. It is recommended to drink at least 6-8 glasses a day. 

If you don’t drink enough water, then it can result in dehydration. Some symptoms of dehydration are:

  • Feeling thirsty
  • Passing less urine or darker urine
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating

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