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Food variety means eating a wide variety of foods from within and across each of the food groups, in the amounts recommended. Eating many different foods helps maintain a healthy and interesting diet that provides adequate nutrition. Eating a variety of foods can help prevent diseases such as diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The foods that humans eat come from either plant or animal sources, primarily vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Foods that share similar nutritional properties are put together in specific groups, which are:

Starchy Foods

Starchy foods like bread, cereal, potatoes and pasta are essential to a healthy and balanced diet. Such foods contain complex or simple carbohydrates, which are a vital energy source.

You need these foods to act as fuel for your body by proving energy. The whole grain foods in this group, such as oatmeal, whole wheat bread and brown rice, are excellent fiber sources.

Fruits & Vegetables

Vegetables such as cabbage, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli and carrots as well as fruits like mangos, oranges, lemons, grapes, peaches and apricots are filled with essential nutrients that your body needs.

These foods provide many different vitamins and minerals in addition to fiber and important enzymes. In addition, these foods are low on fats and sugars, help prevent disease, promote digestive health and boost the immune system.

Fats & Sugars

Foods that contain fats and sugars, such as cheese, butter, salad dressing and oil are powerful energy sources, yet they are high in calories.

Likewise, sweets, such as jams, jellies, desserts, candy, syrup and soft drinks, are incredibly high in sugar. In addition, most of the foods in this group do not contain essential vitamins as mineral, meaning they are what is known as “empty foods” and should be eaten only in moderation.

Unsaturated fats like seeds, vegetable oil, nuts, fish, olive oil and avocados are beneficial because of their cholesterol lowering properties.

Meat, Fish & Eggs

The foods in this group are important sources of iron, zinc, protein and vitamin B. Eggs are high in protein and iron. Fish is an excellent source of protein while meat is full of B12. Herring, mackerel, sardines and salmon contain significant levels of omega-3.

Dairy Products

This group contains milk, cream, cheese and yogurt, which are all excellent sources of protein and calcium. In addition, dairy products are also high in vitamins A, B and D. The foods in this group are important for maintaining healthy bones.

Now that you know a little more about the basic food groups, you should be well on your way to eating right and getting fit. A healthy and balanced diet of these foods is the best way to keep your body functioning as it should, so you can lead a happy, healthy life.

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