According to the World Health Organization, these are four things that you can do today, to make your diet healthier and reduce your risk of developing certain diseases.

These tips include:

  1. Eat a variety of food
  2. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit
  3. Eat moderate amounts of fat
  4. Reduce your salt and sugar intake

Eat a variety of foods

Eat a combination of different foods, including staple foods (e.g. cereals such as wheat, barley, rye, maize or rice, or starchy tubers or roots such as potato, yam, taro or cassava), legumes (e.g. lentils, beans), vegetables, fruit and foods from animal sources (e.g. meat, fish, eggs and milk).

Why?

Eating a variety of whole (i.e. unprocessed) and fresh foods every day helps children and adults to obtain the right amounts of essential nutrients. It also helps them to avoid a diet that is high in sugars, fats and salt, which can lead to unhealthy weight gain (i.e. overweight and obesity) and non-communicable diseases. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is especially important for young children’s development. It also helps older people to have healthier and more active lives.

Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit

Vegetables and fruit are important sources of vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre, plant protein and antioxidants. People whose diets are rich in vegetables and fruit have a significantly lower risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and certain types of cancer.

  • Eat a wide variety of vegetables and fruit, daily if possible.
  • For snacks, choose raw vegetables and fresh fruit, rather than foods that are high in sugars, fats or salt.
  • Avoid overcooking vegetables and fruit as this can lead to the loss of important vitamins
  • When using canned or dried vegetables and fruit, choose varieties without added salt and sugars

Eat moderate amounts of fats and oils

  • Use unsaturated vegetable oils (e.g. olive, soy, sunflower or corn oil) rather than animals fats or oils high in saturated fats (e.g. butter, ghee, lard, coconut and palm oil)
  • Choose white meat (e.g. poultry) and fish, which are generally low in fats, in preference to red meat
  • Eat only limited amounts of processed meats such as bacon, ham and sausages; because these are high in fat and salt
  • Where possible, opt for low-fat or reduced fat versions of milk and dairy products
  • Avoid processed, baked and fried foods that contain industrially produced trans-fat
  • Limit deep fried foods such as Akara

Why?

Fats and oils are concentrated sources of energy, and eating too much fat, particularly the wrong kinds of fat, can be harmful to health. For example, people who eat too much saturated fat and trans-fat are at higher risk of heart disease and stroke. Trans-fat may occur naturally in certain meat and milk products, but the industrially produced trans-fat (e.g. partially hydrogenated oils) present in various processed foods is the main source.

Eat less salt and sugars

When cooking and preparing foods, limit the amount of salt and high-sodium condiments (e.g. soy sauce and fish sauce)

Avoid foods (e.g. snacks), that are high in salt and sugars

Limit intake of soft drinks or minerals e.g. Cola, Fanta and other drinks that are high in sugars (e.g. fruit juices, cordials and syrups, flavoured milks and yogurt drinks)

Choose fresh fruits instead of sweet snacks such as cookies, cakes and chocolate

Why?

People whose diets are high in sodium (including salt) have a greater risk of high blood pressure. This can increase their risk of heart disease and stroke. Similarly, those whose diets are high in sugars have a greater risk of becoming overweight or obese, and an increased risk of tooth decay. People who reduce the amount of sugars in their diet may also reduce their risk of non-communicable diseases such as heart disease and stroke.

References: WHO, Mayo Clinic, CDC

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