Role of healthy and unhealthy food in our diets

128 0

Anupama Nair


Vegetables and fruits are rich source of micronutrients like iron, calcium, vitamin C, folic acid, carotenoids and phytochemicals and macro-nutrients etc. Some vegetables and fruits provide very low calories, while some others provide good calories as these are rich in starch such as potato, sweet potato, and fruits  as banana. Therefore, vegetables and fruits can be used to increase or decrease calories in the diet. You need to eat at least 400 grams (5 portions), of fruits and vegetables per day should be eaten in the diet by an individual.

How can you increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables?


  • Always include vegetables and fruits in the diet
  • Eat fresh, locally available, seasonal vegetables and fruits.
  • Eat a variety of choices of fruits and vegetables “rainbow of colored foods”) in a diet plan as different colored fruits and vegetables contain different nutrients (phytochemicals).
  • Eat fresh fruits and raw vegetables as snacks.


Fats and oils are concentrated source of energy. Dietary sources of fats are classified as:

  • Animal fat
  • Vegetable fat
  • Edible plant


Visible fats are those that are separated from their natural sources such as ghee and butter from milk, cooking oils from oil-bearing seeds and nuts. It is easy to monitor their intake. Invisible fats are those, which are present in almost every article of foods such as cereals, pulses, nuts, milk, and eggs and are difficult to estimate. It is necessary that between 15-30 percent  of total calories in the diet should be provided in the form of fats Diets of infant and children should include adequate amounts of fats to fulfill their higher energy needs than adults.


Excessive fats in the diet increases the risk of obesity, thereby causes heart disease, stroke and cancer. The risk of developing these diseases can be lowered by decreasing the saturated fats to less than 10 percent  of total energy intake, and trans fats to less than 1 percent of total energy intake, and replacing both with unsaturated fats (MUFAs and  PUFAs). When vegetable oils are hydrogenated, it converts them in to semisolid or solid form which is called as vanaspati or vegetable ghee. During process of hydrogenation, unsaturated fatty acids are converted into saturated fatty acids and trans fatty acids. As saturated fats and trans fats are risk factors for development of non-communicable diseases  like coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. The use of vanaspati ghee should be limited in the adult. Vanaspati ghee is mostly used in bakery products, sweets, and snacks products.


How can you reduce fat intake can be reduced by:


  • changing how the food is cooked such as use vegetable oil (not animal oil)
  • remove the fatty part of meat
  • and boil, steam or bake rather than fry
  • avoiding processed foods containing trans fats
  • limiting the consumption of foods containing high amounts of saturated fats


Salt is an important ingredient of the diet. Most people are not aware of the amount of salt they consume. High salt consumption and insufficient potassium intake, which is lesser than 3.5 g and contribute to high blood pressure, which in turn increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. World Health Organization (WHO) recommends use of less than 5g of salt per day.


Salt consumption can be reduced by:


  • Limiting addition of salt during cooking.
  • Not having salt on the table.
  • Do not add additional salt to the already prepared dish.
  • Limiting the consumption of salty snacks, processed foods (like papads, pickles, sauces, ketchup, salted biscuits, chips, cheese and salted fish).
  • Increasing potassium intake by consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables as potassium decreases the negative effects of sodium (salt).
  • Choosing products with lower salt (sodium) content.
  • Use only Iodized salt for consumption and should be stored in an air tight container to avoid moisture.


Sugars are all type of sugars added to foods or drinks during cooking or by the manufacturer or consumer, as well as sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates. Free sugars increase the risk of tooth decay and can lead to overweight and obesity. The intake of free sugars should be less than 10 percent of total energy intake. 


Sugar intake can be reduced by:


  • limiting the consumption of foods and drinks containing high amounts of sugars (e.g., sugar-sweetened beverages, sugary snacks and candies);
  •  and eating fresh fruits and raw vegetables as snacks instead of sugary snacks.

It has been proved we can be proud owner of a healthy body if we eat healthy body and do proper exercise.

Related Post

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *