A balanced diet can help protect us against noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and obesity as well as malnutrition.

There are a number of factors which can influence diet including social and economic factors (1). For example, food prices which affect availability and affordability, individual preferences and beliefs, cultural traditions, and geographical and environmental aspects (including climate change).

Whilst this is complex issue, there is advice which is applicable no matter what your diet and lifestyle. Below are general tips for a healthy balanced diet to protect against malnutrition and NCDs. Anyone unsure as to what they can eat, we recommend seeking advice from your General Practitioner (family doctor).


The World Health Organization advises that eating a variety of foods and consuming less salt, sugars and saturated and industrially-produced trans-fats, are essential for healthy diet. It also sets out that a healthy diet consists of a combination of different foods listed below (2). In addition, in October 2020, the Scientific Committee of the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition introduced new intake recommendations on free sugars(34, 36)

  1. Staples like cereals (wheat, barley, rye, maize or rice) or starchy tubers or roots (potato, yam, taro or cassava)

  2. Legumes (lentils and beans)

  3. Fruit and vegetables

  4. Foods from animal sources (meat, fish, eggs and milk)