Lesson 1 General Nutrition and Health information

A healthy diet and nutrition is important as it prevents the development of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. Unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity can put anyone at risk (including and not limited to, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and their newborns, elderly people, migrants, people with disabilities and people with chronic diseases).

Increased availability of processed foods and rapid urbanization have led to people now consuming more foods high in calories, specific type of fats, refined and added sugars and salt/sodium with lower nutritional content. A diet high in calories does not mean high in nutritional content so it is important for you to have a balanced diet with the right types of nutrients.

Healthy foods include fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and fish.

Let’s find out more about what a healthy diet contains as well as some tips and advice on nutrition…

  • Fruit, vegetables, legumes (e.g., lentils and beans), nuts and whole grains (e.g., unprocessed maize, millet, oats, wheat and brown rice).
  • At least 400 g (i.e., five portions) of fruit and vegetables per day, excluding potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava and other starchy roots.
  • Less than 30% of total energy intake from fatsUnsaturated fats (found in fish, avocado and nuts, and in sunflower, soybean, canola and olive oils) are preferable to saturated fats (found in fatty meat, butter, palm and coconut oil, cream, cheese, ghee and lard) and trans-fats of all kinds, including both industrially-produced trans-fats (found in baked and fried foods, and pre-packaged snacks and foods, such as frozen pizza, pies, cookies, biscuits, wafers, and cooking oils and spreads) and ruminant trans-fats (found in meat and dairy foods from ruminant animals, such as cows, sheep, goats and camels). It is suggested that the intake of saturated fats be reduced to less than 10% of total energy intake and trans-fats to less than 1% of total energy intake. In particular, industrially-produced trans-fats are not part of a healthy diet and should be avoided.
  • Less than 5  g of salt (equivalent to about one teaspoon) per day. Salt should be iodized. Salt can be reduced by limiting the amount of salt and high-sodium condiments (e.g., soy sauce, fish sauce and bouillon) and choosing products with lower sodium content.
  • Less than 10% of total energy intake from free sugars, which is equivalent to 50 g (or about 12 level teaspoons) for a person of healthy body weight consuming about 2000 calories per day, but ideally is less than 5% of total energy intake for additional health benefits. Free sugars are all sugars added to foods or drinks by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, as well as sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.

Source: canva