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What is dietary variety and why is it important?

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What is dietary variety and why is it important?

Dietary variety is determined by the number of different nutrient-dense, core foods that a person usually eats on a weekly basis. The nutrient-dense foods are those that are included in the core foods groups in the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. They include vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, dairy (and alternatives), and lean sources of protein (as well as alternative sources of vegetarian protein).

Different foods contain different nutrients, and so eating a wider variety of foods from the these core food groups increases the likelihood of achieving recommended intakes of fibre, vitamins (B, C and folate), minerals (iron, zinc, calcium) and phytonutrients needed for health and usual body functions, including metabolism, growth, repair and fighting disease.

What does the evidence say?

Research shows that higher food variety scores are associated with a range of health benefits, especially as you age. This includes less weight gain, and greater success with weight loss, lower risk of developing chronic conditions like metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, as well as having a longer life expectancy.

Ways to improve your diet variety:

  • Include meals that are based on different fresh, canned and frozen vegetables, fruit, legumes and wholegrains
  • Every week buy one or two fruits or vegetables that you didn’t buy the week before
  • Try a different lean protein source a couple of times per week
  • Prepare a meat free meal at least once per week, more often if possible, or use less meat and bulk out recipes by adding some vegetarian alternatives into dishes, such as tofu or legumes
  • Buy mixed salad leaves, frozen mixed veggies and berries, 4 bean mix and mixed (unsalted) nuts rather than a single type
  • Try a new recipe each week
  • Include different types of dairy foods, such as yogurt as a snack, milk with cereal or in a smoothie, or sprinkle some low-fat cheese on a pasta dish

How does your dietary variety score stack up?

The Healthy Eating Quiz is a validated tool that measures dietary variety, and has been used by over 600,000 people.

Take the quiz, create a profile to save your results, and you will be sent personalised advice on how to improve your score!

Your Personal Healthy Eating Quiz

What you eat or don’t eat affects how you look, feel and perform. Take our short quiz to find out what foods you could introduce to help you be your best.

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What is healthy eating?

Eating healthy is making sure you enjoy a wide variety of foods from each of the five major food groups daily, in the amounts recommended. The five major food groups as recommended by the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating are:

  1. vegetables and legumes/bean
  2. fruit
  3. lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, legumes/beans
  4. grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties
  5. milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat.

Foods are grouped together because they provide similar amounts of key nutrients and eating a variety of foods from the list above helps to promote good health and reduce the risk of disease.

How do I improve my diet?

If you want to improve your diet you have come to the right place. By completing the Healthy Eating Quiz you’ll receive instant personalised feedback and a report on your diet quality to highlight any areas where you can improve your overall eating habits. Your score is based on the frequency and variety of the foods consumed from the five major food groups mentioned above. No Money No Time can help you improve your score by providing tips, goals and suggestions. On top of this we will provide quick, cheap and healthy recipes as well as credible answers to diet hacks, myths and FAQ’s.

Is my diet healthy?

Dietary habits are different between people. Some people choose to follow a particular diet (i.e., Keto diet or vegan diet) while some have to make changes due to certain food restrictions or health conditions. If you want to know if what you usually eat is healthy, then do the Healthy Eating Quiz today to give you the answers in less than 10 minutes.

Why is healthy eating important?

Your HEQ score and personalised feedback report is based on the frequency and variety of healthy core foods you usually eat. This is important because no single food contains all the nutrients we need to stay healthy. Some foods are higher in nutrients than others and people who have a lot of variety in the foods they eat are more likely to be healthy and to stay healthy. In other words, if you can eat a large variety of vegetables as opposed to only 2-3 types of vegetables, the benefits are much greater. This type of diet also helps you to feel better, think better and perform better during your usual daily activities.

Take the Healthy Eating Quiz