The Indian Dietary Guidelines will help you make healthy decisions that will result in good nutrition and good health.
The National Health and Medical Research Council developed the Guidelines in collaboration with nutrition experts. These guidelines are based upon the best science available about the types of foods and dietary patterns that promote health and wellness, as well as reducing your risk of developing chronic diseases and diet-related conditions.
Healthy eating is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle
These Guidelines will help you to create a healthy diet. You can use them to create your own food plan. These basic tips and a summary of the Indian Dietary Guidelines will help you get started.
- You can choose from a variety of cuisines. Five food groups :
- Many colorful vegetables and legumes/beans
- Cereal grains (grain) – mainly wholegrain and high fiber varieties
- lean meats, poultry and fish, eggs, tofu and nuts
- Milk, yoghurt and cheese, or their alternatives are mostly low in fat. Reduced-fat milks are not recommended for children younger than two years.
- Get plenty of water.
- Limit foods high in saturated fat such as cookies, cakes, pastries and processed meats.
- High fat foods that are high in saturated fat should be replaced with low-fat foods that contain mostly monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats. Replace butter, cream, butter, coconut oil, cooking margarine, palm oil, and other saturated fats with unsaturated fats obtained from oils, spreads and pastes as well as avocado.
- Limit salty foods and beverages, and avoid salty foods at the table or in cooking.
- Limit the consumption of added sugars in foods and beverages, including confectionery, sugar-sweetened soft drink and cordials and fruit drinks, energy drinks, and vitamin waters.
- Limit alcohol. To reduce your chance of alcohol-related injury or disease, you should limit your intake to two standard drinks per day. You should also limit your consumption to four standard drinks at any one time. It is safer to not drink alcohol if you are pregnant, planning to get pregnant, or breastfeed.
Along with the healthy eating guidelines, you should aim to do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every day, such as walking.
Fruits and vegetables (and legumes).
All fruits, vegetables, and legumes provide vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber, as well as nutrients. Many are low in calories, which can make you feel fuller for longer.
Legumes also contain protein so they can be used as a substitute for meat. Split peas can be made from kidney beans, soybeans (navy beans), chickpeas, and lentils.
Your body will benefit from eating lots of different foods from this food group. It may also help prevent certain chronic diseases such as stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and other cancers.
This guide will help you to determine your daily needs.
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Vegetables How much should you eat each day?
- Younger children: 2.5 serves for 2-5 year olds, 4.5 serves 4-8 year-olds
- Older children – 5 to 5.5 serves for older kids and adolescents
- Adults and pregnant women – 5-6 servings
- Breastfeeding mums – 7+ meals
- Standard serve is approximately 75g (100-350 Kilojoules); 1/2 cup of green or orange vegetables (such a broccoli or carrots), or 1 cup green leafy, raw or mixed salad vegetables.
Fruit How much should you eat each day:
- Younger children: 1 serving for 2-5 year olds, 1.5 for 4-8 years olds
- Adults, older children and adolescents, as well as pregnant and nursing women, should have at least two meals.
150g (350 kilojoules) is the standard serving size. This could include a medium or large apple, banana, or two plums or kiwifruits. Consume whole fruits and not juice.
Legumes/beans (as an source of protein – how much you should eat each day:
- *children – 1 to 2 serves, depending upon age
*Men – 2.5 to 3. Depending on their age
*Women: 2 to 2.5 servings, depending on their age
*Pregnant women – 3.5 Serves
*Breastfeeding women: 2.5 servings
A standard serving is between 500 and 600 kilojoules. For example, 1 cup of split peas, canned or cooked chickpeas, split peas, or 170g of tofu.
Wholemeal and wholegrain foods are healthier than refined grains (cereals) because they have more nutrients, vitamins, and fibre. Whole grains can help prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes and excessive weight gain.
Cereal grains that have high levels of saturated fats, added sugars, and salt are considered ‘extras’ or “sometimes foods” in this food group.
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Grain food – How much should you put on your plate every day?
- younger children – 4 serves
- Older children and adolescents – 7 Serves
- Women – 3 serves are for those over 70 years; 6 serves are for women under 50 years; 8.5 serves is for pregnant or breastfeeding women
- Men – 4.5 for men over 70 years old; 6 for younger men.
500 kilojoules is the standard serving size. This could be one slice of bread, or half a cup of porridge. Wholegrain varieties should make up at least two-thirds.
Lean meats, poultry and fish, eggs, tofu. Nuts and seeds.
All protein sources are plentiful, including lean meats, fish, eggs and tofu as well as legumes and beans. A variety of these foods will give you the protein you need along with a range other nutrients such as iron, zinc and vitamins (especially B12) as well as essential fatty acids.
According to the Indian Dietary Guidelines, you should eat at least one serving of each food group per day. Three to four servings per day is recommended for pregnant women.
How much should you eat each day?
- Children – 1 to 2.5 servings, depending on their age
- Men: 2.5 to 3 servings, depending on their age
- Women: 2 to 2.5 servings, depending on their age
- Pregnant women: 3.5 servings
- Breastfeeding women: 2.5 servings
500 to 600 kilojoules is the standard serving size. For example, 80g of cooked lean poultry (100g raw), 100g of cooked fish fillets (about 115g raw), 65g of cooked lean meat (about 90-100 graw), two large eggs (60g each), 170g tofu and 30g nuts or seeds or 150g cooked legumes.
Milk and yoghurt are rich in calcium, other minerals, protein and vitamins. They are good for heart health and can reduce the likelihood of stroke and high bloodpressure. Dairy is good for bone health.
Select varieties that are low in added sugar and saturated fat.
You can avoid dairy by choosing calcium-enriched soya or rice drinks. You should ensure that they contain at most 100 mgs of calcium per 100 ml.
How much milk, yoghurt, cheese or other should you put on your daily plate?
- Children: 1.5 to 3.5 servings, depending on their age
- Men: 2.5 to 3.5 servings, depending on their age
- Women: 2.5 to 4 servings, depending on their age
- Pregnant women: 2.5 servings
- Breastfeeding women: 2.5 servings
500 to 600 kilojoules is the standard serving size. For example, one cup of milk or one cup of yoghurt.
“Extras” or “Sometimes foods”
Because some foods are not healthy, they are called ‘extras’, discretionary food’ or ‘sometimes foods’. Extras include added sugar, saturated fat, salt and kilojoules. These include commercial burgers, pizzas, alcohol, cakes, biscuits, fruit juices, cordials, and fried foods. You can find more information at Food to eat sometimes.
Timer for your food intake
Healthy eating habits start with what you eat. Eat breakfast is the best food timing tip. Breakfast literally means “to break the fast” from the last meal at night to the first meal the next day.
People who skip breakfast are more likely not to eat healthy choices later in the morning and to consume larger portions at their next meal. Children who skip breakfast have lower nutrition and perform worse at school.
These are other food timing tips:
- Regular eating: This will allow you to eat regular meals at specific times and get all five food groups. You should eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snacks.
- Listen to your body : Eat when you feel hungry, and stop eating when you feel full.
- Take your time while you eat. Turn off the TV and computer. Pay attention to your food and listen to your body.
- Don’t eat dinner at night. This allows your body to process and utilize the food. If you are looking for a late-night snack, a glass of milk or a cup decaffeinated tea or herbal tea might be a good option.
- Eat more at lunch than at dinner. The body is most efficient at digesting peak energy times which are between noon and 3 pm. Splitting a larger lunch into smaller meals can help you manage it. You can eat one meal at noon and one mid-afternoon. Eating dinner an hour earlier also aids evening digestion.
- Take 45 minutes to digest. This will decrease the amount of energy stored as fat, since the body will use it for replenishing low glycogen reserves.
Carbohydrates, glycaemic index
Carbohydrates are your body’s primary energy source. You can find them in breads, cereals, pasta, potatoes, starchy vegetables, corn and dried beans. They also come in milk, yoghurt, and milk. A carbohydrate at every meal is good for fueling the body throughout the day.
In your healthy diet, include a variety good-quality carbs such as rice, bread, pasta, and quinoa (preferably whole grains or high fiber varieties).
Carbohydrate-containing foods are rated on a scale called the glycaemic index (GI). This rating, which can range from zero to 100, is related to the speed at which the carbohydrate is absorbed into the bloodstream and how it affects blood glucose levels.
Low-GI foods (GI below 55) are slow to absorb and provide sustained energy throughout the day. Wholegrain bread, pasta and wholegrain bread are all examples.
High GI foods (55 and more on the GI Scale) are rapidly digested, and absorbed into your bloodstream. White and wholemeal breads, wholemeal cereals, processed cereals short grain rice, potatoes crackers, watermelon, and other foods with high GI are all examples.
You can eat high- and low-GI foods. However, it is recommended to eat more food at the lower end of GI scale to improve your health.
Most nutritious vegetables
Vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet. They are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
They are also delicious and filling and can be used in a wide variety of dishes such as soups, salads, smoothies and sandwiches.
When I feel creative, I love to give dishes like pizza or pasta a healthy twist by adding vegetables and trying new and interesting ingredients from our produce section.
All vegetables are good for you, but some stand out because of their powerful health benefits and high supply of nutrients.
These are 14 of the best nutrient-dense vegetables.
This leafy green is the best-known vegetable for its high nutrient content.
This is because 1 cup (30g) of raw spinach contains 16% of Daily Value (DV), for vitamin A, and 120% of DV for Vitamin K — all for only 7 calories.
Antioxidants found in spinach may also help to reduce your risk of developing diseases. One study showed that dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach were high in beta carotene, and lutein. These antioxidants are linked with a lower risk of developing cancer.
Another study found that spinach may help lower blood pressure and improve heart health.
Carrots are rich in vitamin A and provide 119% of the daily DV in only 1 cup (28g).
Beta carotene is also found in these fruits and vegetables. This antioxidant may prevent cancer. This compound is converted by your body into vitamin A .
One study of more than 57,000 participants found that eating at least 2 to 4 carrots per week was associated with a 17% lower chance of colorectal carcinoma .
An analysis of 18 studies revealed that carrots may reduce the risk of lung cancer .
These root vegetables are rich in other nutrients such as potassium and vitamins C, and K .
Broccoli has a high level of glucosinolate, a compound that is rich in sulfur.
In animal and test-tube studies, researchers have thoroughly investigated the ability of sulforaphane to prevent cancer.
This cruciferous vegetable may also help to prevent other chronic diseases.
A small study showed that broccoli sprouts reduced inflammation markers linked to heart disease and other chronic conditions.
One cup (91g) of raw broccoli contains 77% of the daily value for vitamin K and 90% of the daily value for vitamin C. It also contains a good deal of folate and manganese.
Garlic was used for medicinal purposes for millennia.
Allicin is the main active compound. It has been shown that it can improve blood sugar and heart health .
A 3-month study of 90 participants showed significant decreases in belly fat, blood pressure, and triglyceride levels when they took 1,600mg of garlic powder daily.
Supplementation with garlic powder also resulted in improvements in insulin resistance. This condition may contribute to type2 diabetes .
A further review of 33 studies revealed that garlic lowers cholesterol and improves blood sugar control .
Additionally, further research is required, but test-tube and animal studies have shown that allicin has strong cancer-fighting properties .
5. Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts, like broccoli, are a cruciferous veggie and contain the same beneficial plant compounds.
Brussels sprouts also contain kaempferol , an antioxidant that may be especially effective in protecting cells from damage.
Kaempferol was shown to be anti-inflammatory and can fight cancer .
This vegetable is also a great source fiber. It’s an important nutrient that supports regular bowel movements, healthy heart, and sugar control .
Brussels sprouts are also very nutritious. Each serving contains folate, magnesium and potassium .
Kale, like other leafy greens is well-known for its nutritional density and antioxidant content.
Raw kale contains 21 grams (one cup) of potassium, calcium and copper.
One small study found that eating kale with a high-carb meal was more effective in preventing sugar spikes .
Another study found that drinking kale juice can lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.
7. Pea greens
Peas can be considered a starchy vegetable. They have more calories and carbs than other vegetables and can cause blood sugar to spike if eaten in large quantities.
Green peas are extremely nutritious. One cup (160g) has 9 grams fiber, 9 grams protein, vitamins A, C and K as well as riboflavin and thiamine.
Peas are high in fiber and support digestion health. They enhance the beneficial bacteria levels in your gut, and promote regular bowel movements.
Peas are also rich in saponins which is a group known for its anticancer properties. Although further research is needed, some studies suggest that saponins could reduce tumor growth and cause the death of cancer cells.
8. Swiss chard
Swiss chard is low-calorie, but high in essential vitamins and minerals.
36g of one cup has 7 calories, but almost 1 gram fiber, 1 protein and lots of manganese.
Swiss Chard is also rich in health-promoting antioxidants, plant compounds, and betalains.
Even though this veggie could help to prevent type 2 diabetes damage, human research is needed.
A study on rats showed that Swiss chard extract decreased oxidative stress due to high blood sugar levels. Another older study in rats showed that chard extract was able to improve blood sugar levels and reduce the oxidative stress.
Beets, a versatile root vegetable, pack fiber, folate and manganese in every serving.
They are also high in nitrates which your body transforms into nitric oxygen — a compound that helps dilate blood vessels.
A review of 11 studies found that nitrates found in beet juice could lower blood pressure. This may reduce your risk of developing heart disease.
Furthermore, beets have been shown to improve endurance and athletic performance.
Asparagus has many vitamins and minerals that make it a great addition to any diet. A half cup (90g) of cooked asparagus contains 33% of the daily value for folate. It also has plenty of vitamin K, selenium and riboflavin.
Folate from foods like asparagus can protect against diseases and prevent development irregularities in the neural tube in pregnancy.
A study on animals also showed that asparagus extract may protect the liver and kidneys from damage due to oxidative stress. Source
11. Red cabbage
Red cabbage, another cruciferous vegetable, is full of antioxidants and other beneficial properties. One cup (89g) of raw cabbage contains 2g of fiber, and 56% of the vitamin C DV.
Anthocyanins are also a rich source of red cabbage.
Red cabbage extract reversed the oxidative stress of rats with high cholesterol.
Similar results were seen in another study of mice that was fed high-fat diets. Red cabbage microgreens had a significant effect on lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and reducing weight gain.
12. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are distinguished by their bright orange color, sweetness and remarkable health benefits.
A medium sweet potato has approximately 4g fiber and 2g protein. It also contains a good deal of potassium, manganese and vitamins B6.
The beta carotene in this root vegetable is also high, which your body transforms into vitamin A. One sweet potato actually packs 132% of this vitamin’s daily value.
Additionally, beta carotene intake is linked with a lower risk of certain types of cancer, such as lung cancer.
A review of 23 studies suggests that sweet potatoes could be especially effective in regulating blood sugar levels and cholesterol.
13. Collard greens
Only 1 cup (130g) of cooked collard leaves provides 6 grams of fiber and 4 grams protein. It also contains 25% of the Daily Value for Calcium.
Actually, collard greens are one the best plants sources of calcium. This mineral plays a crucial role in muscle function and nerve transmission as well as hormone production and bone health.
Collard greens contain high levels of antioxidants, which may help reduce your risk for certain diseases.
Some research shows that a higher intake of certain vegetables, such as collard greens, may reduce the risk of developing glaucoma. This eye condition can cause blindness.
Another study found that a higher intake cruciferous veggies such as collards greens was associated with a lower risk of colorectal or stomach cancers by 8% and 19%, respectively.
Cauliflower’s versatility and high nutrient content are two of its strengths. A single cup (155g) of cooked cauliflower provides 3 grams of fiber and 3 grams protein. There are many other important nutrients in the cauliflower, such as folate, vitamins C and K.
cauliflower, like other cruciferous vegetables, is a great source for compounds such as isothiocyanates and glucosinolates.
Cauliflower can also be used to replace ingredients such as rice and potatoes.
It could even help with weight loss. More than 133,000 people participated in a 4-year study that linked each daily intake of cauliflower to 1.4 pounds (0.6kg) weight loss.
Many vegetables are rich in antioxidants, essential vitamins, and minerals.
While the vegetables listed above are excellent options for adding nutrients to your diet, there are many other foods that are rich in nutrients.
To get the best possible health, eat a variety of vegetables. Include them in your balanced diet.
- The Indian Dietary Guidelines can be used as a foundation to create a healthy diet that meets your needs. If you have questions about nutrition or specific nutritional needs, consult an Accredited Practising Dentist.
- You can eat a variety of foods from all five food groups. Limit saturated fat, added salt, added sweetness, and alcohol.
- You should know how much you can put on your plate.
- Water is your primary drink.
Where can I get help?
- Your doctor
- Dietitians Association of India.
- Nutrition India.
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