A balanced diet is one which includes all the nutrients in correct proportion or adequate amounts to promote or preserve health.

It can easily be achieved through a blend of the four basic food groups. The quantities of foods needed to meet the nutrient requirements vary with age, gender, physiological status and physical activity. A balanced diet should provide around 50-60% of total calories from carbohydrates, preferably from complex carbohydrates, about 10-15% from proteins and 20-30% from both visible and invisible fat.

Importance of a balanced diet

Our diet must provide all essential nutrients in the required amounts. Requirements of essential nutrients vary with age, gender, physiological status and physical activity. Dietary intakes lower or higher than the body requirements can lead to under-nutrition or over-nutrition respectively.
Eating too little food during certain significant periods of life such as infancy, childhood, adolescence, pregnancy and lactation and eating too much at any age can lead to harmful consequences. An adequate diet, providing all nutrients, is needed throughout our lives.

Nutrients for a balanced diet

Carbohydrates, fats and proteins are macronutrients, which are needed in large amounts. Vitamins and minerals constitute the micronutrients and are required in small amounts. These nutrients are necessary for physiological and biochemical processes by which the human body acquires, assimilates and utilizes food to maintain health and activity.

In addition, a balanced diet should provide other non-nutrients such as dietary fibre, antioxidants and phytochemicals which bestow positive health benefits. Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, beta-carotene protects the human body from free radical damage. Spices like turmeric, ginger, garlic, cumin and cloves are rich in antioxidants.



Therefore, it is important to have appropriate diet during different stages of one’s life.

Points to consider

  • Choose a variety of foods in amounts appropriate for age, gender, physiological status and physical activity.

  • Use a combination of whole grains, grams and greens.

  • Include jaggery or sugar and cooking oils to bridge the calorie or energy gap.

  • Prefer fresh, locally available vegetables and fruits in plenty.

  • Include in the diets, foods of animal origin such as milk, eggs and meat, particularly for pregnant and lactating women and children.

  • Adults should choose low-fat, protein-rich foods such as lean meat, fish, pulses and low-fat milk.

  • Develop healthy eating habits and exercise regularly and move as much as you can to avoid sedentary lifestyle.

(Source – Dietary guidelines for Indians, ICMR)