South African Food-Based Dietary Guidelines 2012 | WesternCape On Wellness

South African Food-Based Dietary Guidelines 2012

Follow these 11 healthy eating guidelines:

Enjoy a variety of foods

A variety of foods means eating more than one type of food at each meal, eating different foods on different days and preparing food in different, healthy ways. Different foods are composed of different nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, vitamins, water and dietary fibre that help the body to function properly.

Be active

To be active helps to keep our bodies and minds healthy. Adults should aim to do at least one session of physical activity 5 times a week (30 to 45 minutes), or three short 10-minute sessions, over the course of the day. One hour per day of play is recommended for children.

Make starchy foods part of most meals

Starchy foods provide the body with energy and other important nutrients. Unrefined or wholegrain and fortified starchy foods are the best choices such as whole wheat or brown bread, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, oats or coarse maize-meal.

Eat dry beans, split peas, lentils and soya regularly

Also known as plant proteins or legumes, these foods should be eaten two to three times per week. Example are dry beans, baked beans, butter beans, kidney beans, split peas, chick peas, lentils, soya beans and products made from soya, seeds, unsalted nuts and peanut butter. They are important for protein, dietary fibre, providing energy and are rich in minerals.

Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit every day

High in vitamins and minerals, these help to strengthen the body’s immune system to resist illnesses such as infections, diarrhoea, colds and tuberculosis. All types of vegetables and fruit are good for us and can be eaten as part of a healthy diet, as part of main meals and/or snacks. Aim for a daily goal of at least 5 portions of vegetables and fruit. Have different types and colours of vegetables and fruit, preferably those in season. Include both cooked vegetables and salads in your meals.

Have milk, maas or yoghurt every day

About two cups of dairy (milk, maas, yoghurt or sour milk) are needed every day in order to provide enough calcium in the diet. Cheese may be eaten instead of milk drinks. Calcium is essential for healthy bones and teeth, blood clotting and for healing wounds.

Fish, chicken, lean meat and eggs can be eaten daily

Animal-based foods are sources of good quality protein. Protein is needed for the growth, maintenance and repair of body tissue. Small portions of these foods can be eaten every day. However, it is not essential that they are eaten every day. Choose lean cuts of meat rather than sausages and processed meats. Try to eat one or two fish meals a week. As polonies, viennas, sausage meat, frankfurters, salami and bacon are high in fat and salt, they should not be eaten too often.

Drink lots of clean, safe water

Almost every part of our body contains large amounts of water. Because our body loses water throughout the day, we have to drink water every day. Clean water is the best and cheapest drink. Choose clean water to drink first. Low fat or fat free milk, tea and coffee may be had as alternatives. Limit sugar-sweetened beverages, including sweetened fruit juices.

Use fats sparingly: choose vegetable oils, rather than hard fats

Apart from providing energy, fats are needed for building cells and to help absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Fats supply essential omega 3 and 6 fatty acids that cannot be produced by the body and have to be supplied by our diet. Unhealthy animal fats should be replaced with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, including vegetable oil (in small amounts), such as olive, canola and sunflower oil, soft ‘tub’ margarine, oily fish, avocado, and nuts and seeds.

Use sugar and foods and drinks high in sugar sparingly

Too much sugar is not good for our health in the long term. Sugar is high in energy and contains no other nutrients. Eat small amounts at a time and as little as possible. Choose foods and drinks with little or no sugar. Use only a little or no sugar during cooking. Sweetened drinks and high sugar foods, such as soft drinks, sweets, biscuits, cake and chocolate should be an occasional treat.

Use salt and foods high in salt sparingly

Half of the salt we eat is from salt added by manufacturers during the processing of foods. The other half comes from salt added while preparing and cooking food, as well as salt added at the table. Many snack foods and take-away foods are laden with salt. Eating too much salt and salty food can increase your blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Reducing salt intake (as well as increasing vegetable and fruit consumption) can lower blood pressure and reduce these risks.