Bare Necessities of a Diet

Bare Necessities of a Diet

Suggested daily intake from the main food groups

What are the basics that contribute to a healthy diet?

Women=2000 calories a day
Men=2500 calories a day


What: Fruit and vegetables.

How much (per day): 5 a day 1 portion=80 grams which is roughly a handful.

What: Eat a variety of colours to maximise health benefits (green, red, yellow, orange); High in potassium: bananas, cantaloupe, dried peaches and apricots, honeydew melon, prunes and orange juice; High in vitamin C: broccoli, dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach, guavas, kiwis, oranges, papayas, peppers and strawberries.

Why: High in fibre, low in calories, fat and no cholesterol; Contain folic acid which helps the body form red blood cells; Reduce risk of heart attack, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and obesity; Those high in potassium reduce risk of developing kidney stones, lower blood pressure, decrease bone loss; Those high in vitamin C: promote growth, repair, healing, healthy immune system, teeth and gums.


What: Protein.

How much (per day): Women=45 grams Men=55 grams.

What: Beans, eggs, fish, meat, poultry, nuts, milk; Limit red meat and check fat content of nuts (almonds, chestnuts, hazelnuts are good options); Aim for 1 oily fish a week/4 lean fish.

Why: Growth, repair and healing; Help build strong bones, muscle, cartilage, skin, blood, enzymes, hormones and vitamins; Contain B vitamins, E vitamins, Iron, magnesium and zinc.


What: Carbohydrate (starch and sugar).

How much (per day): Women=230 grams Men=300 grams.

What: Starch: bread, cereals, fruit juice, milk, pasta, potatoes, rice, vegetables The type is more important than amount so aim for whole grains/wholemeal.

Why: Provide fuel the body and brain, not high in fat unless extra ingrediance are added e.g. butter or oil to a potato.


What: Sugar.

How much (per day): Women=90 grams Men=120 grams High sugar content =≥15g per 100 g Low sugar content =≤5g per 100 g.

What: Biscuits, cakes, fruit juice, ice-cream, jams, soft drinks, sweets Warning: many ‘healthy options’ have hidden sugar content, for example breakfast cereals and granola bars.

Why: Energy source (a carbohydrate); Excess can increase risk of heart disease; Contribute to obesity; Excess fructose and glucose can have a toxic effect on the liver.


What: Fat.

How much (per day): Women=70 grams Men=95 grams Saturated fat: Women=20 grams Men=30 grams High fat=≥ 5g of saturated fat per 100g Low fat=≤1.5g saturates per 100g.

What: 3 types: Low unsaturated: oily fish, nuts, seeds, sunflower and olive oil; Trans fat : animal, dairy, meat and hydrogenated oils Saturated fat : some dairy products, cakes, biscuits, sweets, crisps, pastry, meats like sausages.

Why: Store energy; Provide insulation; Protect vital organs; An imbalance can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity.


What: Dairy.

How much (per day): Women=3 servings Men=3 servings 1 serving=one 250ml glass of milk, 40g of cheese, 200ml of yogurt.

What: Low fat milk, cheese, yogurt, butter and cream (but these are high in fat so consume sparingly).

Why: Calcium: bones and teeth; Folate: healthy cells; Iodine: regulates metabolism; Magnesium: muscle function; Phosphorous: for energy release; Protein: growth and repair; Riboflavin: healthy skin; Vitamin A: eyesight and immune system; Vitamin B12: healthy cells; Vitamin C: healthy connective tissue; Zinc: immune system.


What: Salt.

How much (per day): Women=6 grams Men=6 grams Most of us eat too much.

What: Salt is actually present in many foods; Avoid readymade meals, salty snacks and try not to add salt to meals; Swap salt for herbs to add flavour.

Why: Aids water retention, muscle contraction, digestion and absorption; Excess salt can cause high blood pressure, aggravated asthma and even lead to stomach cancer or chronic kidney failure.


What: Water.

How much (per day): Women=1.6 litre/8 200ml glasses Men=2 litre/10 glasses a day ( from the European Food Safety Authority).

What: Still or fizzy water Though gastric distension may occur (excess air in the stomach causing bloating).

Why: Our body is 60% water; Drinking water controls calorie consumption, balances bodily fluids, energises muscles, cleanses the kidneys and optimises bowel function.


Note: These figures are for the average person, take into consideration your age, height and lifestyle. For example a 7ft athlete will consume far more calories than a 5ft person who moderately exercises.

Daily amount taken from the Food and Drink Federation, GDA (Guidance Daily Allowance) labelling.