A healthy diet defined
A healthy diet is primarily about dietary diversity—consuming a variety of foods across and within food groups to meet energy and essential nutrient requirements. Consumption of a wide variety of whole foods,especially vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains and nuts, is particularly important.
In some cases, where diets are inadequate to meet normal physiologic and work demands, an additional focus on meeting energy requirements is also essential. Animal-source foods may make an important contribution to overall dietary diversity, providing a rich source of easily absorbed essential micronutrients and dietary energy.
Because dietary patterns differ from place to place, foods that contribute to diet diversity must be identified based on their local availability throughout the year, their utilizable nutritional content, and the extent to which they are commonly consumed.
Regional differences in food safety must also be taken into account. Food choices that are otherwise diverse are likely to adversely affect overall health if exposed to chemical or microbial contaminants through the food supply chain.
Limiting consumption of highly processed foods is also important for healthy diets and prevention of chronic disease. Such foods—including sugar-sweetened beverages, snack foods, and processed meat products—are commonly high in refined sugars, salt, and saturated fat and low in dietary fiber. In addition, these foods are often
energy dense (high in energy per unit weight) and may contribute to excessive calorie consumption or displace whole foods rich in dietary fiber and micronutrients. A simple approach to assessing the healthfulness of diets, therefore, is to look at the contribution of whole foods to the diet overall rather than individual food products, ingredients, or nutrients.
These guidelines are intended to support community members in educating each other about better food and drink
choices to offer in schools, meetings, homes, cultural and recreational events, and in restaurants.