According to the National Health Service, a balanced diet consists of modest food portions from all of the major food groups, including fruits and vegetables; lean meats; wholegrain items, such as quinoa and barley; legumes; and limited amounts of sugary and high-fat foods. The NHS recommends eating high-fiber and starchy items to fuel the body throughout the day.
People should substitute red meats and other high-cholesterol proteins with fish, which contains healthy unsaturated fats and several important minerals. Lean meats, such as turkey and chicken without the skin, are also healthy protein options. The NHS warns that vegetarians must be especially careful to monitor their iron intake. To do this, they can rely on healthy foods, such as green vegetables, eggs, dried fruit and fortified cereals, to obtain enough of the nutrient. Additionally, vegetarians must find alternative sources of omega-3 fatty acids since they are unable to eat fish. Alternative options include walnuts, enriched eggs, ground flaxseed and tofu.
The NHS recommends getting several servings of fruits and vegetables each day by adding them to every meal. It is also important to avoid food additives that may cause health complications if consumed in excess, such as sodium, saturated fat, trans fat and sugar. Lastly, water is essential to a balanced diet and helps to keep the body hydrated.