Eating a balanced diet is important for good health and to help reduce your
risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Here is some practical advice to
help you make some healthy food choices.
What Should I Be Eating?
For a healthy balanced diet, aim to do the following:
- Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day. These can be
fresh, frozen, tinned, dried or a glass of juice.
- Eat more starchy foods, such as pasta, rice, potatoes, cereals and pulses
(beans, peas and lentils). These should make up about a third of your diet.
- Choose lean meat, and trim off the fat and any skin.
- Try to eat fish twice a week, including one portion of oily fish, such as
mackerel or sardines.
- Grill, bake, poach, boil, steam or microwave your food, rather than frying
or roasting. Or you could try 'dry roasting', without adding any fat.
- Reduce the amount of sugar in your diet.
What Is A Portion Of Fruit And Vegetables?
1 portion = any of these:
- 1 apple, banana or orange
- 2 plums or other fruit of a similar size
- ½ a grapefruit or avocado
- 2 to 3 tablespoonfuls of vegetables (raw, cooked, frozen or canned)
- 2 to 3 tablespoonfuls of fruit salad (fresh, stewed or canned)
- ½ to 1 tablespoonful of dried fruit (such as raisins and apricots)
- 1 handful of grapes, cherries or berries
- 1 dessert bowel of salad
- 1 glass (150ml) of fruit juice (however much you drink, fruit juice counts
as a maximum of 1 portion a day)
Should I Cut Down on Salt?
Sodium in salt can lead to high blood pressure, which increases the risk of
stroke. So, you should try to cut down on the salt you add to your food during
cooking and at the table. Remember to check the labels of any ready-prepared
foods for the sodium content, before you buy.
Salt statistics and facts
- ¾ of the salt we eat comes from processed food
- people in the UK eat about 9 g salt (about 3.5 g sodium) a day, on average
- men should have about 6 g salt or about 2.5 g sodium a day
- 0.5 g sodium or more per 100 g is a lot of sodium
- 0.1 g sodium or less per 100 g is a little sodium
Potassium, on the other hand, has a beneficial effect on blood pressure. Fruit
and vegetables such as bananas, tomatoes and avocados are all good sources of
What About Drinking?
Men can drink up to 3 to 4 units of alcohol a day without significant risk
to their health. A unit is half a pint of ordinary-strength beer, lager or cider,
a small glass of wine or a single 25 ml measure of spirits.
Drinking too much alcohol can increase your weight, particularly around the
abdominal area, as well as leading to other long-term health problems, such
as high blood pressure. To help you cut down, you could try drinking lower-strength
drinks, drinking half pints instead of pints, or alternating alcohol with non-alcoholic
Try to drink at least 6 to 8 cups of water a day, or more if you exercise.
If you don't like the taste of plain water, you could try sparkling water, or
add some squash or fruit juice for flavour. You could also try adding a slice
of lemon or lime.
Should I Cut Out Fat?
It's important to have some fat in your diet. Fat helps the body absorb certain
vitamins, and it's a good source of energy and the 'essential fatty acids' that
the body can't make itself. But fat should make up no more than one third of
the energy (or calories) in your diet. On average, men in the UK eat more fat
Avoid fatty foods, especially those rich in saturated fat. Foods high in saturated