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balanced diet

A balanced diet is one that includes the Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) for all the essential nutrients including proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. A balanced diet supports normal growth and development and good health.

All foods, when chosen wisely, can be part of a balanced diet. For example, some fat is needed in the diet to support life. But too much fat can increase the risk of heart disease. A balanced diet provides an adequate amount of energy (kilojoules), protein, fibre, and vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and iron, but not too many kilojoules, saturated fats, cholesterol, sodium, or refined sugars.

In a balanced diet, 50 - 60 percent of the kilojoules consumed each day should come from carbohydrates. The emphasis should be on unrefined complex carbohydrates. Less than 30 percent of the day's kilojoules should come from fat, with less than 10 percent of that type of kilojoule derived from saturated fat. The remainder of the day's kilojoules should come from protein.

Refer to the Australian Guide To Healthy Eating for your healthy eating guide. In general:
  • Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods
  • Eat plenty of breads and cereals (preferably wholegrain), vegetables (including legumes) and fruits
  • Eat a diet low in fat and, in particular low in saturated fat
  • Maintain a healthy body weight by balancing food intake and regular physical activity
  • If you drink alcohol, limit your intake
  • Eat only a moderate amount of sugars and foods containing added sugar
  • Choose low-salt foods and use salt sparingly
  • Encourage and support breastfeeding
  • Eat foods containing calcium. This is particularly important for girls and women
  • Eat foods containing iron. This is particularly important for girls, women, vegetarians and athletes

Author: Clare Armstrong, MS, RD
Reviewer: eknowhow Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr John Hearne

Last Updated: 27/11/2004
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request

This website and article is not a substitute for independent professional advice. Nothing contained in this website is intended to be used as medical advice and it is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice.  All Health and any associated parties do not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information.


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