Lose weight through healthy eating while reducing the risk of illness

Those who follow these rules will never need a diet again

Many people want to eat healthier and lose a few pounds. But what does "healthy eating" actually mean? Many nutritionists warn of unhealthy crash diets. Because long-term healthy nutrition is essential for permanently healthy weight and for generally improved health.

The increased production of processed foods, rapid urbanization and changing lifestyles have led to drastically changed eating patterns in recent decades. The World Health Organization (WHO) explains what a healthy diet entails and how strongly it affects our health.

Changed eating patterns

People in Germany and other western countries consume a lot of food with a high energy content. Most processed foods contain too much sugar, fat, and salt. At the same time, the consumption of fruit, vegetables and fiber, which comes from whole grain products, for example, is declining. A formula that, according to the WHO, is likely to lead to obesity while increasing numerous disease risks. Unhealthy eating and lack of exercise have become leading health risks worldwide.

What influences our diet?

According to the WHO, the exact composition of a varied, balanced and healthy diet depends on the individual needs of a person. Factors such as age, gender, lifestyle, cultural context, locally available food and degree of physical activity play a role.

Basic principles of healthy eating

Nevertheless, according to the WHO, the basic principles of a healthy diet always remain the same. The following rules therefore form the basic concept of a healthy diet.

  1. The energy intake (calories) should be balanced in relation to the energy expenditure.
  2. The daily diet should include fruits, vegetables, legumes (e.g. lentils and beans), nuts and whole grain cereals (e.g. unprocessed corn, millet, oats, wheat and brown rice).
  3. To avoid weight gain, no more than 30 percent of the calories consumed should come from fats.
  4. Saturated fat intake should be less than ten percent of total energy intake. Trans fats should make up less than one percent of the calories consumed.
  5. In the long term, the aim should be to shift fat consumption from saturated fats to unsaturated fats and to completely do away with industrial trans fats.
  6. No more than ten percent of the energy consumed should come from free sugar. A reduction to five percent is associated with further health benefits.
  7. Salt intake should be limited to five grams per day.

Tips for daily fruit and vegetable consumption

The WHO recommends eating at least 400 grams of fruit or vegetables a day. Starchy root or tuber vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and cassava do not count towards these 400 grams.

Reduce sugar consumption

As mentioned above, no more than ten percent of the calories should come from free sugars. Free sugars are all sugars that are added to foods or beverages, as well as sugars that are naturally contained in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.

With an average energy consumption of 2000 calories a day, ten percent of energy from sugar would correspond to 50 grams of sugar (about 12 level teaspoons) and five percent would be 25 grams of sugar. For comparison: A glass of cola with 250 milliliters already contains 27 grams of free sugar.

Tips on fat consumption

According to the WHO, unsaturated fats should be preferred when consuming energy from fats. Such fats are found, for example, in fish, olive oil, avocados, nuts, sunflower oil, soybean oil or rapeseed oil. Saturated fat, which can be found in fatty meat, butter, cream, lard, cheese and palm oil, should be avoided.

The so-called multi-hardened industrial trans fats, which are often found in highly processed products such as pastries, frozen pizzas, pies, biscuits, waffles and spreads, are particularly harmful. In the best case, the intake of such trans fats should be avoided entirely or at least less than one percent of the total energy intake.

Benefit from a healthy diet

If you have never dealt with the topic of healthy eating, you will first be kicked out in the face. Because it seems like it is much easier to eat unhealthy. But if you follow certain basic rules, you can benefit from a healthy diet several times after a period of getting used to. According to the WHO, healthy eating is said

  • protect against high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer,
  • promote healthy growth in children and adolescents,
  • Prevent overweight and obesity
  • improve cognitive skills.

Establishing a healthy nutrition concept could well be worthwhile as a resolution for 2020. The German Liver Foundation also advises a more conscious use of nutrition to prevent liver diseases. For more information, read: Minimalism - the secret of a healthy liver. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • World Health Organization: Fact Sheet Healthy diet (August 2018),
  • World Health Organization: Healthy diet (accessed: 02.01.2020),

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