Current data suggests 46% of Australian adults eat too few fruit and vegetables as part of their regular diets. However, a major contributor to population health issues in Australia is dietary habits: eating too few nutrient dense foods, and too many foods high in energy, saturated fats, added or refined sugars. Current dietary guidelines suggest adults of all age groups should eat a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups, including vegetables, fruit, grains, lean meat, and dairy products. This amounts to at least five serves of vegetables, two serves of fruit and reduced fat dairy, one small serve of lean meat or chicken, between four and six serves of wholegrain cereals, and plenty of water per day. In addition, foods containing saturated fat, added salt and sugars, as well as alcohol should be limited.
Eating a balanced and varied diet containing many essential vitamins and minerals is considered an important factor in maintaining good general health. Some of the essential vitamins and minerals, and their effects on health are outlined below: