Francesco Branca

Definining healthy diets


Healthy diets should be supporting the highest level of health. They should allow healthy growth and development, support all body functions, enable adequate levels of activity, prevent noncommunicable diseases, prevent foodborne disease and promote wellbeing at all stages of the life course. According to FAO and WHO the core principles of a healthy diet include (a) Adequacy of energy and essential nutrients; (b) Balance among the three main sources of energy; (c) Diversity – a large variety of food groups and foods within food groups; (d) Moderation: in consumption of foods and dietary components associated with health risks.

Latest WHO guidelines indicate that food energy should be obtained 40-70% of from carbohydrates, mainly complex carbohydrates; 15-30 % from fats, with 10% from saturated, 1% from trans-fat and the rest from unsaturated. Energy intake from free sugars should be limited to < 10% (possibly <5%); sodium should be limited to < 2 g/day of (5 g salt). Water should be used as a main source of fluids, and sugar-sweetened beverage consumption should be avoided in children. Unprocessed or home processed food should be preferred to highly processed foods. red meat and processed meat should be consumed with moderation.