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Why is a balanced diet important?

JJ Virgin
Health Education Specialist

A balanced diet includes lean protein, healthy fats, lots of leafy and cruciferous veggies, and slow-release high-fiber starches. These foods signal the right hormones to burn fat, boost metabolism, and tell your brain when you're full.

Adequate vitamin and mineral intake from a balanced diet is essential for maintaining health and preventing diseases caused by dietary deficiencies, such as pellagra (triggered by a shortage of niacin) or night blindness in children who lack vitamin A. But some nutrients can be toxic if taken at too high a level. Ingesting too much vitamin A during pregnancy can cause severe developmental abnormalities in the fetus, for example. Excessive zinc can suppress rather than stimulate the immune system. Large doses of niacin can produce symptoms that range from nausea and blurred vision to liver toxicity.

A balanced diet is important because what people eat plays a role not only in managing illness, but also preventing it, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. For example, a well-balanced diet can help keep the immune system strong and that is an important safeguard against disease and illness. 

If a person has a chronic condition, a carefully planned menu can make a difference. For instance, incorporating heart-healthy foods into an eating plan can help prevent and lower high blood pressure and this reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.