What Are the 7 Things You Need for a Balanced Diet?

Balanced diet components

There are seven essential factors for a balanced diet. They are carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, minerals and water.
There are seven essential factors for a balanced diet. They are carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, minerals and water.

There are seven essential factors for a balanced diet. They are

  1. Carbohydrates
  2. Protein
  3. Fat
  4. Fiber
  5. Vitamins
  6. Minerals
  7. Water

The USDA has developed a helpful guide called MyPlate for adults and children to become familiar with the idea of a balanced diet.

MyPlate is the concept that replaces the familiar “food pyramid.” The MyPlate model shows the five food groups (fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains and dairy). These food groups contain the seven essential dietary factors in recommended proportions for every age. Eating from the five food groups help people get the seven essential factors required for a balanced diet.

MyPlate makes it easier to understand the types and quantity of each food to include in each meal to have a healthy and balanced diet.

How does MyPlate work?

The plate is divided into four unequal sections to represent different food groups.

The main food groups are

  • Vegetables: Vegetables make up the largest portion on the plate, which is 40 percent. They contain minerals, vitamins and fiber.
  • Protein: Proteins make up 20 percent of the plate.
  • Grains: Grains comprise 30 percent of the plate and consist of complex carbs and vitamins.
  • Fruit: Fruits make up 10 percent of the plate, which provide fiber and vitamins.
  • Dairy: A small amount of dairy in a glass (e.g., milk) or a cup (e.g., yogurt) is incorporated into the diet.

Fruits and vegetables fill half the plate, whereas proteins and grains fill the other half. The small amount of dairy provides some fats.

What are the benefits of MyPlate?

The benefits of MyPlate include

  • MyPlate follows a simple model, which is easy to use. It represents what an ideal meal should look like.
  • One of the positive aspects about MyPlate is that it does not necessitate meat to be included in the diet. “Protein” is a part of the plate, which could be meat, fish, shellfish, eggs, beans, peas, nuts or seeds. This makes it easy for vegans or vegetarians and those with other dietary restrictions to follow.
  • MyPlate recognizes the benefits of a plant-based diet, hence it eliminates the “oils” or “fats” sections included in the previous food pyramid.
  • MyPlate also incorporates dairy because dairy is believed to play an important role in maintaining good health.

How do I plan MyPlate?

MyPlate is based on the 2015 to 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provides detailed instructions for planning healthy meals and snacks. Some important points of these guidelines include

  • Half of the plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables. This includes whole or cut up fruits without added sugars. Vegetables could be cooked (steamed/roasted/sautéed) or eaten raw. It is advised to avoid fried vegetables as much as possible.
  • Dairy options could include 1% or skim milk, cheese or other low-fat dairy options.
  • Half of the grains on the plate should be whole grains. Brown rice and whole-wheat pasta are examples of whole grains.
  • Proteins can be of different types, such as seafood, eggs, beans, unsalted nuts or lean meat.
  • High sodium, saturated fat and added sugars should be avoided. For example, bread can have as much salt as salty snacks and packaged fruit juices have high sugar content and very little fruit. MyPlate can help you to pick healthy food and drinks.
  • It is advised to be physically active in addition to eating a healthy diet.


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