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What Is Healthy Eating?

First of all, if you seek to understand what it means to have a healthy diet, your meals deserve to follow these attributes:

  • be tasty;
  • be part of your social routine;
  • contain foods from different groups;
  • provide balanced nutrients;
  • and be sustainable.

Healthy And Unhealthy Foods

We already know that a healthy diet should always prioritize “real foods,” but how do we differentiate the types of food? What are healthy foods? Come on!

Natural And Minimal Processed Foods

As we said above, natural and minimally processed foods should be the basis of daily consumption. When consumed in a wide variety and most of plant origin, they are the key to a nutritionally balanced diet and promoter of a sustainable food system.

Natural foods are obtained directly from plants or animals and are purchased for consumption without undergoing any change after leaving nature. These are fruits, vegetables, roots, tubers (such as potatoes and cassava), and eggs.

Minimally processed foods undergo minimal industrialization, such as cleaning, drying, fermentation, packaging, pasteurization, cooling, or freezing. No salt, sugars, oils, fats, or other substances are added to these foods.

Minimally processed foods are natural foods that have been packaged, fractionated, refrigerated, or frozen, cereals (rice, corn, oats), legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas), cassava, corn or wheat, fresh or dried pasta, fresh, chilled or frozen meat, milk, unsweetened yogurt, mushrooms, dried fruit, whole fruit juices, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices, teas, coffee, and drinking water.

Did you see all these options? It is possible to maintain a diet rich in natural foods, right?

Oils, Fats, Salt, And Sugar

Now that we know what should be the basis of your diet, you need to understand how to prepare the foods mentioned above healthily. Come on!

You should use vegetable oils (such as soybean, corn, sunflower, and olive), fats (such as butter and coconut fat), salt, and sugar in small amounts when seasoning and cooking your chosen foods. However, as long as they are used in moderation, these ingredients will help to diversify and make your meal even tastier without promoting nutritional damage. Good, isn’t it?

Consumption Of Processed And Ultra-Processed Foods

Knowing the importance of fresh and minimally processed foods in your daily life and putting this habit into practice, limited consumption of processed foods becomes natural. This is excellent news for your health.

Ingredients and methods used in manufacturing processed foods – such as canned vegetables, fruit compotes, canned or candied fruit, canned fish, tomato paste, salt-added meats, and white bread – can adversely affect the nutritional composition. Of the foods from which they are derived.

It is typical for adding fats, salt or sugar to processed foods to be done in quantities much higher than those used in homemade culinary preparations. Thus, the original fare is transformed into a source of nutrients whose excessive consumption is associated with heart disease, obesity, and other chronic diseases. Therefore, consumption of processed foods should be limited to small amounts.

For ultra-processed foods, the radar should be even more attentive. Due to their ingredients, including food additives such as preservatives, flavorings, and colorings, ultra-processed foods – such as stuffed cookies, “packaged” snacks, refreshment powders, sausages, soft drinks, ready-made “spices” and “instant” pasta – are nutritionally unbalanced. Furthermore, due to their formulation and presentation, they tend to be consumed in excess and replace natural or minimally processed foods.

So, note this rule; it is a good one: “Always prefer fresh or minimally processed foods and culinary preparations to ultra-processed foods.” And between the two of us, there’s nothing better than eating real food.

Food Pyramid

Surely you’ve heard about the food pyramid. This is an essential tool when we decide to explore a healthy and balanced diet.

The food pyramid is a graphic representation that brings together various information about the food groups present in our diet. The objective is to indicate, through their levels, the recommended portions for each type of food. The pyramid works as a guide for your daily diet, ensuring balance and nutritional well-being.

And look how cool: each country has its food pyramid, facilitating the maintenance of cultural and regional eating habits. But there is a fundamental general rule for understanding the pyramids: foods are arranged in “food groups” according to the nutrients they have in common and are divided into levels of need. The Brazilian food pyramid organizes these food groups as follows:

  • at the first level, that is, at the base of the pyramid, is the group of cereals, tubers, and roots, including foods such as rice, oats, pasta, potatoes, and cassava, for example;
  • at the second level, the vegetable group and the fruit group ;
  • at the third level are the group of milk and dairy products, the group of meats and eggs, the group of pulses (such as beans, peas, lentils, and chickpeas), and oilseeds (such as chestnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, macadamias, pistachios);
  • on the fourth level, at the top of the pyramid, is the group of oils and fats and the group of sugars and sweets.

In each of the groups present in the pyramid, it is possible to observe the ideal amount that should be consumed. So, instinctively, we can conclude that foods positioned more at the pyramid’s base should be consumed in more significant quantities throughout the day, unlike those at the top.

ALSO READ: HEALTHY EATING: WHAT IT IS, BENEFITS AND TIPS

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