Healthy Diet for the General Population

These recommendations are for those people who are at low risk for specific illnesses. If you feel that you fall into this category, then this diet is one that you can utilize.

Nutrition is like a jigsaw puzzle and is only complete when all the various nutrients are present. The role for proper nutrition is to promote a healthy lifestyle, promote healthy aging, to prevent diseases, and to aid in the recovery during disease treatment.

Why a healthy diet?

  • Your body works better.
  • You can accomplish more.
  • You can feel better.
  • You are less likely to get certain illnesses

What Is a Healthy Diet Exactly?

Here are several building blocks, or food types, that comprise a healthy diet. One should consume the right building blocks in the right amounts. The list that follows provides examples of the right foods:

  1. Whole grain products such as bread, cereal, rice and pasta.
  2. Food with fiber, such as vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds.
  3. Plant foods rich in Phytonutrients (nutrients produced by a plant), such as soy.

In addition, your healthy diet should limit your total Fat consumption to less than 30 percent of your total calories. Fats that are considered monounsaturated or polyunsaturated, are associated with many beneficial health effects but also contribute to your daily caloric intake. If you need to lose weight, avoid overeating calories. These restrictions should be "balanced", that is, consume less carbohydrate and fats. AACE does not endorse any fad diet for weight loss, like very low-fat or very low-carbohydrate diets.

You should maintain your weight within the normal range for body mass index.

If you want a guideline you can refer to the New Food Pyramid below. To view the latest dietary guidelines for Americans, click here.

The New Food Pyramid

Did You Know?

Monounsaturated fats are a type of fat that is one of the healthier fats. It does not cause the problems to the body that other types of fat cause.

Polyunsaturated fats are also good fats. They can be found in vegetable oils like safflower, corn, sunflower and soybean. Polyunsaturated fats remain liquid at room temperature.

Physical Activity

All persons must exercise a minimum of 30 to 60 minutes per day, or more in order to lose weight so that the BMI is between 20 to 25. Increasing physical activity by walking more, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and participating in formal exercise is a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle that also includes a healthy diet.

Other Building Blocks to a Good Diet

  • Limit salt intake. Salt makes your body hold onto water and causes the body to process food slowly. In addition, over a long period of time, it can cause damage to important vital organs. Salt is not off limits on a healthy diet, but must be eaten with moderation.
  • Store foods safely. This would seem an obvious action to take, but many people every year become ill from storing foods or preparing foods in a careless manner.
  • Limit the use of tobacco and alcohol products. These have no nutritional value whatsoever and over a period of time can cause damage to the body.
  • Exercise daily. Most experts recommend 60 minutes of sustained activity a day.
  • Remove stress when possible. Stress has tremendous effects on the body. Finding ways to handle stress better, or removing oneself from stressful situations is another way to increase health.
  • Schedule regular doctor visits. Just as regular visits are scheduled for your car's maintenance, your body also requires that an expert measure and judge how well it is running.

Related Articles

  • How to Handle Stress
  • Three Kinds of Exercise
  • Healthy Diet for Inducing Weight Loss in the Overweight and Obese Patient
  • Healthy Diet for the Diabetic Patient

© 2005 American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists