What makes a balanced diet? With all the conflicting info on food pyramids and carb counting, it's tough to remember the basics. Here's a breakdown of the nutrients you need for a healthy body—and the foods that provide them.
Protein—Protein is necessary for building strong muscles and protecting the immune system. It also helps slow the speed of digestion and makes you feel full faster. Good sources include red meat, dairy products, nuts, beans, and tofu.
Fat—While "bad" saturated and trans fats are to be avoided, "good" unsaturated fats have been shown to protect against heart disease and high cholesterol. Good sources include nuts, olive oil, and canola oil.
Vitamins—A variety of vitamins, including B-complex, E, C, and D, can help strengthen the immune system and protect against many different diseases. Good sources include fresh fruits, vegetables, and some whole grains.
Minerals—Minerals like sodium, potassium, calcium, iron, and zinc maintain electrolyte balance, help ensure the proper functioning of organs, and support bone and muscle growth. Good sources include fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and red meat.
Fiber—Soluble fiber helps slow the rate of digestion and may also help lower cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber improves bowel function and may help protect against intestinal disease. Fiber also helps to make you feel full faster. Good sources include oats, bran, whole wheat, fruits, and vegetables.
More from health