If you’re unsure about what to eat, you are certainly not alone. There’s plenty of confusing and conflicting information out there when it comes to good nutrition, but unfortunately, much of it isn’t evidence-based.
While they may not be as exciting as the latest diet fad, the Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADGs) provide information about the types and amounts of foods, food groups and dietary patterns that aim to promote health and wellbeing and reduce the risk of diet-related conditions and chronic diseases.
The ADGs were developed by the National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) with advice from a group of experts in nutrition, medicine and public health. who spent three years reviewing more than 55,000 scientific journal articles.
Accompanying the guidelines is a food selection guide – the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. This guide provides a visual representation of the proportion of the five food groups which are recommended to be eaten each day, as outlined in ADGs.
The ADGs and The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommend eating a variety of foods from each of the five food groups each day, in the recommended amounts, in order to meet the nutrient requirements for good health.
Foods are grouped together because they provide similar amounts of the key nutrients characteristic of that food group.
For example, the key nutrients of the milk, yoghurt, cheese and alternatives group are calcium and protein, while the vegetables and legumes/beans group are good sources of dietary fibre and vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, magnesium and folate.
The five food groups are:
- Vegetables and legumes/beans
- Grain (cereal) foods
- Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives
- Lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans
The current dietary guidelines don’t have a separate food group for fats and oils but an allowance is made for these.
The guidelines recommend replacing saturated fats (found in animal foods and many processed foods and fast foods) with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats found in foods like nuts, seeds, avocados, olives and oils made from these foods.
The guidelines also discourage the consumption of discretionary foods, which are those foods which are not a necessary part of a healthy diet.
To find out more about the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating and to calculate your own energy, nutrient and food group recommended serves, visit the Australian Government Department of Health Eat for Health website