Healthy eating habits/The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating and Kilojoule Consumption

Why eat a wide variety of healthy foods?

Wide variety of fruits

Enjoying and eating a wide range of fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains is important and beneficial for many reasons. Eating nutritiously encourages healthy aging and higher energy levels, as well as lowering the risk for chronic diseases and some cancers. To be specific, there is evidence that consumption of high amounts of ‘colourful’ vegetables and fruits lowers the risk of arthritis, CVD, asthma and chronic bronchitis. The reasons for this association is due to fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes being highly concentrated with organic compounds such as antioxidants, dietary fibre and phytoestrogens.



Antioxidants are compounds which protect the body from free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that are produced during the break down of food and exposure to environmental pathogens, such as radiation and tobacco smoke. Antioxidants help reduce the risk of chronic diseases by neutralising these free radicals which can damage healthy cells, increasing the risk of heart disease and cancer. Antioxidant substances found in fruits and vegetables include: Vitamin B, Vitamin E and Vitamin C [1].

Variety of food

Dietary Fibre


Dietary Fibre is an indigestible portion of plant foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Its role in healthy living is that it supports healthy digestion within the intestinal tract and it binds to and extracts carcinogens, bile acid, excess hormones and toxins from the body through digestion.[1].



Phytoestrogens are a phytonutrients which are found in plant foods. Phytoestrogens, such as isoflavones and lignans have been associated with the reduced risk of cancers, such as breast cancer as isoflavones modulate hormonal activity to reduce possible damaging effects.[1].

Food energy/Kilojoules


We eat food to fuel our bodies for energy, growth and repair. Carbohydrates, proteins and fats are broken down by the digestive system into their simplest components: simple sugars, amino acids and fatty acids. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred fuel, although proteins and fats can also be converted into energy. Food energy is measured in kilojoules (kJ).

A kilojoule is a unit of energy. It also refers to the energy value of food and the amount of energy our bodies burn. The alternative measurement of energy is a calorie. The difference between a calorie and a kilojoule is the 1 calorie is equal to 4.184 kilojoules.[2]

How many kilojoules show I be consuming?

Pregnant Women
Child eating

According to the Australian New Zealand Standards Code a balanced diet of an average adult should contain approx. 8700 kilojoules per day. However, each individuals food energy need varies based on their activity levels and stages of life.[2]

Examples: - Individuals who are highly active during the day in comparison to less active individuals require higher amounts of energy.

- Pregnant and breastfeeding women need more energy during certain stages of their reproductive lives. Approximately an increase of 1,800kJ during pregnancy and 2,000kJ during breast feeding.

- Young children and adolescents require higher amounts of energy to ensure healthy growth and development.

- Men tend to have higher energy requirements than women due to having more muscle tissue; the more muscle tissue the more kilojoules are burned.

- The elderly tend to have lower energy requirements due to reduced activity levels and muscle tissue loss. [2]

Kilojoules per gram

Food Component Amount of kJ p/gam
Fat 37kJ/gram
Alcohol 29kJ/gram
Protein 16kJ/gram
Dietary Fibre 13kJ/gram
Water 0kJ/gram


The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating


The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating: is a present-day food guide the visually represents the proportion and amount of serving sizes within the five food groups recommended for consumption each day.[3]

What/who is it for?


In conjunction with the Australian Dietary Guidelines, the aim of the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating is to help everyday Australians make healthy food choices and as well as - Promote health and wellbeing; - Reduce the risk of diet-related conditions, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity; and - Reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancers.[3]

Food Groups

Eatwell Plate

There are 5 food groups in the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. These are: Vegetables/Legumes and Beans, Fruits, Breads and Cereals, Dairy, Meat, Fish, Poultry and Tofu[3]

The five food groups are grouped together based on what type of foods they are and what nutrients they contain. It is encouraged to eat a variety of foods from each food group to help protect our bodies from early ageing and disease.

Food Group Recommended serves p/day 1 serving size examples
Vegetables and Legumes 5 serves 1/2 a cup of cooked orange vegetables
Fruit 2 serves 1 medium sized fruit e.g. and apple or a banana
Breads and Cereals 5 - 6 serves 1 slice of multigrain bread
Dairy 2-3 serves 250ml (1 cup) of milk
Meat and other Proteins 2.5 - 3 serves 65g of cooked red meat, 2 large eggs or 80g of cooked poultry


For More Information


For information and guides on daily energy intake visit the Daily Intake Guide: Healthy Eating Made Easy: website

For more information on The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating: visit


  1. a b c The George Mateljan Foundation. (2013). Eating a wide range of healthy foods. Retrieved from
  2. a b c d State Government Victoria. (2013). Kilojoules and Calories. Retrieved from
  3. a b c National Health and Medical Research Council Australia (2013). Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. Retrieved from
  4. National Health and Medical Research Council Australia (2013). Serves Sizes. Retrieved from