About food and nutrition
Eating well helps you stay healthy and reduces the risk of disease. Find out why food and nutrition are important, who needs good food and nutrition, how we make sure Australia’s food is safe, and how to understand food labelling.
Why good nutrition and food are important
What you eat and drink provides you with the nutrients (proteins, minerals and vitamins) you need to stay healthy. Diet plays a major role in your health and wellbeing at all stages of your lives.
- contributes to quality of life
- helps maintain healthy body weight, reducing the risk of overweight and obesity
- protects against infection
- reduces the risk of disease and chronic conditions, like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some forms of cancer
- reduces the risk of premature death.
Based on the latest science, the Australian Dietary Guidelines outline what you should eat for good health and wellbeing.
No single food provides all the nutrients you need. The guidelines recommend eating a wide variety of nutritious foods from the 5 food groups every day. These are:
- vegetables and legumes/beans
- grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties
- lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts, seeds and legumes/beans
- milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat
Learn more about what foods and how much you should eat for a healthy diet.
Who needs good nutrition and food
Everyone needs good nutrition every day throughout life. But the nutrients you need vary depending on your life stage and circumstances. The needs of children and older people are not the same as those of adults, and women need more nutrients while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Food and nutrition in Australia
Research has found that Australians of all ages generally:
- don’t eat enough of the 5 food groups – vegetables, fruit, grains, meat and alternatives, and dairy products and alternatives
- eat too much discretionary food (food we don’t need that’s high in energy and low in nutrients), like pastries, ice cream or chips
- eat too much sugar, salt and saturated fat.
More than 7% of the total burden of disease in Australia is due to poor diet.
Food standards and safety in Australia
- safe and suitable to eat
- imported, produced, transported, stored, handled and served safely
- labelled accurately to reflect contents and nutritional value and to support consumers to make healthier food choices.