Experts stress the necessity of eating a well-balanced and healthy diet. But, exactly, what does it imply?
Let us revisit how the United Nations defines a “healthy diet” in their March 2021 paper “Healthy diet: A definition for the United Nations Food Systems Summit,” which will take place in September 2021 and will focus on strengthening food systems, promoting healthy diets, and improving nutrition, especially for children and young people.
According to the United Nations, a “healthy diet” promotes good health and prevents sickness. It ensures that enough amounts of minerals and health-promoting compounds are obtained from nutritious foods while avoiding the ingestion of health-harming substances.
While the notion is obvious, there is no commonly acknowledged method for designating individual foods as more or less nutritious. Similarly, in order to classify certain foods as nutritious, some context specificity is required. A food, such as whole fat milk, may give much-needed energy and other nutrients to one population group (e.g., underweight 3-year-old children), but be less “healthy” for another due to its high energy (calories) and fat content (e.g., obese adults).
A food that contains a wide range of nutrients, including protein, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, and fiber. According to the paper, such a meal also reduces the intake of hazardous elements like sodium, saturated fats, and sugars.
According to the research, “nutrient profiling,” or the classification of foods based on their nutrient density (nutrient content per 100 g or per 100 kcal of energy or per serving), has advanced significantly in recent years as a method of identifying individual foods as more or less nutritious.
Lynnette M Neufeld, Sheryl Hendriks, and Marta Hugas, the study’s authors, pointed out that there were still some gaps in the capacity to categorize meals as more or less healthy.
While nutrient requirements varied by gender, age, and life stage, there was no uniform nutrient requirement value that could be determined even within age or sex categories.
The authors also highlighted the lack of a database for less prevalent foods such as “edible insects.”
The report emphasized the importance of food safety, stating that biological hazards, pathogens, or chemical contaminants such as pesticides or veterinary medicines might make food unsafe.
According to the research, governments’ food safety priorities include managing hazards from farm to table, shifting from reactive to proactive food safety approaches, and using a risk analysis framework to enable prioritized decision making. Building a food safety capacity will aid governments in economic development by enhancing the health of their citizens and expanding food export markets and tourism opportunities.