5 important food groups
What is a food group?
A food group is a collection of different kinds of foods with similar nutritional properties. Foods are divided into different food groups because there is a certain amount of daily servings you need for each food group to remain a healthy diet. Since every food group is based on the same kinds of nutritional properties, it is easier (for governments) to recommend daily servings of each food group.
Fruit and vegetables
The NHS (national health services) recommends you to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Either fresh, frozen, tinned or dried. You can also have juiced fruit and vegetables but only a maximum of 150ml a day. That will also count as one of your 5 portions. Fruit and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Vitamins and minerals: vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients, they support and strengthen bones and your immune system. They also help heal wounds and a really important factor is that they convert food into energy.
Fibre: fibre is an important part of a healthy balanced diet. It helps digest and can prevent heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and also some types of cancer.
Potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy foods
The NHS says at least one third of the food we eat should be made out of starchy foods. Starchy foods are a good source of energy (carbohydrates) and are full of nutrients we need. They don’t only contain starch; also fibre, calcium, iron and B vitamins. Another important fact is that when you cook some foods for a long time at high temperatures, particularly starchy foods, a chemical is created called Acrylamide. Acrylamide is a chemical that can cause cancer. A few tips to reduce the chance of Acrylamide at home is to follow the cooking instructions on the pack, aim for a golden yellow colour while cooking, and a lighter yellow when baking, don’t keep raw potatoes in the fridge and make sure you eat a varied and balanced diet; getting your 5 A Day.
Calcium: Calcium is the most common found mineral in our body. Most of the calcium in our body, is stored in the bones and teeth. (For kids, teens and adults, calcium is important for strong bones and teeth)
Iron: Iron is an essential mineral, it helps transport oxygen throughout the body. If you lack iron, your body can’t properly build oxygen-carrying red blood cells. Without healthy red blood cells, your body can’t get enough oxygen which can lead to becoming fatigued.
B vitamins: All eight B vitamins help convert foods into energy; allowing us to stay energised throughout the day.
Oil and spreads
The current U.K. guidelines advise you to cut down on all fats and replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat. Although too much fat isn’t good for you, it is still an essential part of remaining a healthy and balanced diet. Fat helps the body absorb vitamins A, D and E. These vitamins are fat-soluble, which means they can only be absorbed with the help of fats.
Dairy and alternatives
Dairy and alternatives are an important part of a healthy diet. They are good sources of proteins and calcium. Your body needs those to be able to repair itself.
Proteins: Every function of your cells, organs and whole body is controlled by proteins. They are important for various things: your body uses proteins to build and repair tissue, it helps make enzymes, hormones and other body chemicals and it builds up your bones, muscles, skin and blood.
Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins
These foods are a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals. Beans and pulses are cheap, low-fat and a great source of protein.
The Netherlands compared to England
A few differences I noticed between the Netherlands and England are: England (The NHS) focuses more on the intake of fruit and vegetables and stimulates the portions of meat and fish needed each day while the Netherlands (het voedingscentrum) tells you to eat more plant-based foods instead of meat and fish. They also stimulate you to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables but mainly want you to eat meals based on whole grain.