A healthy diet is a diet that maintains or improves overall health. A healthy diet provides the body with essential nutrition: fluid, macronutrients such as protein, micronutrients such as vitamins, and adequate fibre and food energy.
A healthy diet may contain fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and may include little to no processed food or sweetened beverages. The requirements for a healthy diet can be met from a variety of plant-based and animal-based foods, although additional sources of vitamin B12 are needed for those following a vegan diet. Various nutrition guides are published by medical and governmental institutions to educate individuals on what they should be eating to be healthy. Nutrition facts labels are also mandatory in some countries to allow consumers to choose between foods based on the components relevant to health.
Data from United Nations agencies such as the World Health Organization indicate at least 1.1 billion people get too few calories to ward off hunger and another 1.1 billion or more take in too many calories. The rest of humanity gets enough calories and enough exercise but lacks enough vitamins and minerals. People in this middle group are in the best place, but many of them are still far from optimal health.
Of 2.1 million Americans who died in 1987, a poor diet was associated with the cause of death in two-thirds of the cases. Diet is implicated in perhaps a third of cancers, particularly of the digestive organs.