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Healthy Eating Diet

Definition

The aim of the Healthy Eating Diet is to provide advice about everyday nutrition so that the diet can contribute to a healthy lifestyle.

Diet should be high in

  • Variety. A nutritious diet is one that includes around 30 different foods each day. Food variety is achieved by eating a mixture of foods across the whole range of food types (e.g. fruits, vegetables, cereals, meat, fish and dairy products). Eat a range of foods within these food types (e.g. cereals can be wheat, oat, rye, rice or barley). In this way, the nutritional benefits of each different food can be gained.
  • Antioxidant Foods. Foods rich in vitamin E and flavonoids are important in the healthy diet and may help protect against conditions like heart disease and certain types of cancer. These foods include vegetables, fruits, vegetable seed oils (e.g. canola oil, sunflower oil), nuts, soybeans, tea and grape products. See the Antioxidants topic.
  • Dietary Fibre. Including fibre-rich foods in the diet can decrease the risks of heart disease and intestinal disorders. Approximately 30g of fibre per day is an ideal amount for good health. Good sources of dietary fibre include fresh, raw fruits and vegetables as well as wholegrain and wholemeal foods (brown rice, cooked oats, and wholemeal bread).
  • Water. The Healthy Eating Diet recommends a daily water intake of at least 6 to 8 glasses.

Diet should be moderate in

  • Unsaturated Fats. Unsaturated fats should replace most of the saturated fat in a healthy diet. Unsaturated fats help to lower blood cholesterol levels and improve general health. Omega-3 fatty acids are unsaturated dietary fats found in dark-fleshed fish such as tuna, mackerel and sardines. Try to eat at least two fish meals per week (preferably fish that contains abundant natural oils, such as those listed above). Monounsaturated fats are found in olive oil, canola oil and some cold pressed oils. Omega-6 Fatty Acids are found mainly in plant foods such as seeds, nuts and vegetable oils. These oils include safflower, sunflower, soybean and cottonseed oils. See the Fats or Lipids topic on the Healthpoint for further information.
  • Cholesterol. Moderate amounts of cholesterol can be eaten by people without cholesterol problems.
  • Sugars. Only moderate amounts of sugars and foods containing added sugars should be eaten.

Diet should be low in

  • Saturated Fats. Saturated fats increase the risks of certain diseases (e.g. heart conditions) and increase blood cholesterol levels more than eating cholesterol-rich foods. Saturated fats are found in most animal products. Lamb and beef contain large amounts of saturated fats; pork and chicken contain a slightly lower amount and game meats (e.g. kangaroo and deer) have a lower level still. Products derived from these animal fats also have a high content of saturated fat (e.g. dripping, butter, cheese and cream). Coconut oil, coconut cream, coconut milk and palm-kernel oil are all high in saturated fat. Saturated fats should make up less than 8% of the total daily caloric intake. See the Fats or Lipids topic.
  • Alcohol. If you drink alcohol, you should limit your intake.
  • Salt. Choose low salt foods and use salt sparingly.

Breakfast

  • For added variety, try untoasted muesli with added sunflower and pumpkin seeds, served with yoghurt and a mixture of fresh or dried fruits.

Lunch

  • A sandwich made on multigrain bread with cheese, chutney, tomato, lettuce and avocado.
  • Try filling sandwiches with lots of salad vegetables and using small servings of lean meat, skinless chicken or fish or a reduced fat cheese.

Dinner

  • Chopped lamb fillet cooked with salt-reduced soy and ginger, served with stir-fried vegetables OR
  • A large serving of pasta with a small serve of sauce.
  • For dessert, try couscous with added nuts and dried fruit.

Notes

  • Choose low-fat cuts of meat and trim any excess fat from meat before cooking (this includes removing the skin from chicken and turkey).
  • Use low fat cooking techniques such as steaming and grilling, rather than frying.
  • Use low fat dairy products such as skim milk and reduced fat cheeses, yoghurts and creams.
  • If spreading margarine on bread, use a polyunsaturated variety and keep the scraping thin. A scraping of avocado is a healthier alternative to margarine or butter. Butter contains a lot of saturated fat, which should be kept to a minimum in the Health Eating Diet.
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