Food variety and a healthy diet.



Eating a wide variety of foods

Food variety means consuming various types of foods from each and every food group, in the quantities suggested. With the consumption of a vast variety of foods, the diet is interesting and healthy, providing sufficient nutrition to assist in preventing illnesses like cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.

Five main food groups

For good health, it is necessary for you to have a balanced diet comprising of foods from all the five main food groups. Choose different types of food from within each group as well as across the five main groups. Each of the food groups will be the source of a particularly rich nutrient which can contribute towards the whole diet. For instance, milk products are known for their protein, riboflavin and calcium and so contributes these nutrients to the diet.

One particular food will give more of certain nutrients than another, and this happens even in one food group. If you consume many different foods from each group of food the chances of getting all the nutrients found in that food group is good. For instance, you get plenty of vitamin C from capsicums, and lots of foliate from asparagus as well as spinach. The majority of the various foods you choose ought to be from plant foods such as fruits, grains and vegetables.

Choose a variety of foods

Eating a number of different foods within a food group can assist to get your meals to be interesting and prevent your diet from becoming boring. The main groups of food are:

  • Legumes, vegetables.
  • Fruit.
  • Cheese, yoghurt, milk.
  • Lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes, nuts.
  • Noodles, rice, cereals, pasta, noodles, bread.

Tips on the importance of a varied diet for people with diabetes -Video Guide

Ways to have your diet contain the five groups of food

It’s easy to have foods from the main group of food used in meals and snacks. Below are a few suggestions:

  • Legumes and vegetables : Cooked or raw vegetables are good for a snack. They can be taken together with other food for dinner and lunch. You can make a sandwich filling with salad vegetables. Vegetables can be used in a soup for lunch. There are various ways to use vegetables for dinner; stir-fried, patties as well as curries. Raw carrots and celery sticks can be aquick snack.
  • Fruit : It is not difficult to take along to be eaten as a snack. It can also be a portion of almost any meal. For instance, a banana can be eaten with some cereals at breakfast. Whole fruits, as fresh as you can get, are preferred to fruit juices since the juices have hardly any fiber and contain too much energy and sugar.
  • Cheese, yoghurt, and milk : Dairy foods consist of all types of cheese, yogurt and milk which you can add to your food.
  • Lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes and nuts : These are good sources of protein. Include these protein rich foods in your meals and snacks.
  • Noodles, rice, cereals, pasta, noodles, and bread : A number of sources provide grains and cereals. All types of pasta, corn, barley, rice, biscuits, breakfast cereals, and whole-meal breads are some of the sources.

Using the five major groups of food in sample servings


One serving is equal to:

  • One and a half tablespoons of sultanas.
  • Four dried halved apricot.
  • A cup of canned fruit.
  • Two small pieces of kiwi fruit, plums or apricots.
  • A medium piece of pear, orange, banana or apple.

Legumes and vegetables

One serving is equal to:

  • A quarter cup of sesame seeds or sunflower.
  • One third cup of almonds or peanuts.
  • Half a cup of cooked canned or dried split peas, lentils, beans or chick peas.
  • A potato.
  • A cup of salad vegetables.
  • 75g or half a cup of cooked dried beans, peas or lentils.
  • 75g or half a cup of cooked vegetables.

Meat, eggs, poultry, and fish

One serving is equal to:

  • ¼ cup sesame or sunflower seeds.
  • 1/3 cup almonds or peanuts.
  • Two small eggs
  • 80 to 100 grams of fish fillet
  • 65 to 100 grams of cooked chicken or meat which can be half a cup of lean mince, two slices of roasted meat or two small chops.

Cereals and breads

One serving is equal to:

  • Half a cup of muesli.
  • A cup of porridge.
  • A cup of cooked noodles, pasta or rice.
  • One medium bread roll.
  • Two slices of bread.
  • One and one third cup of cereal flakes for breakfast.

Cheese, yogurt and milk

One serving is equal to:

  • 200 grams or a small carton of yoghurt.
  • 40 grams or two slices of cheese.
  • Half a cup of evaporated milk.
  • 250ml or a cup of long life, reconstituted, dried or fresh milk.

Extra foods

Foods which are not important to a diet, that have not much nutrient, are called €”extra foods”€. Such foods usually have plenty of salt, sugar or fat. Soft drinks, butter and margarine are examples of “extra foods”.

Why food variety is important to your health

The chances of getting enough as well as all necessary nutrients from your diet is better if a great variety of foods are consumed, since the many necessary nutrients are so different in their combinations and quantities in the various foods. This can assist in the prevention of diseases and the improvement of your health.

The diseases which can be prevented are:

  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular or diseases of the circulation as well as heart .

Good food variety leads to good nutrition

If a wide variety of food is eaten, your food will supply you with enough nutrition. However, you ought to know that:

  • The amount of the nutrients can be affected by the methods used in the growing, storing and preparation of the foods.
  • Food variety has nothing to do with the amount of each food eaten or the frequency of consumption of the food.
  • Getting energy (kilojoules) is only one of the reasons for food variety. Another reason is to make sure that fiber which is a necessary part of the diet although it contains no nutrition, is available to you.


  • Consuming a good food variety consisting of healthy foods, particularly vegetables and fruits, gives protection against cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes.
  • To have food variety, you have to consume the suggested amounts of foods which have different nutrients and come from all the five groups of food.
*** Posted By Natasha A.Nada ***