Diet and nutrition

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 a 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).

Tips for a healthy balanced diet

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 a healthy diet. It also sets out that a healthy diet consists of a combination of different foods (2) including:

  • Staples like cereals (wheat, barley, rye, maize or rice) or starchy tubers or roots (potato, yam, taro or cassava)
  • Legumes (lentils and beans)
  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Foods from animal sources (meat, fish, eggs and milk)

Note: Common staples in Zambia also include sorghum, millet, sweet potato and busala as well as legumes such as soya beans.


  • White and brown sugars are both made from sugar cane or sugar beet (although sugar beet is not grown in Zambia - it is grown in more temperate parts of the world). Brown sugar made from sugar cane contains various amounts of molasses depending on the type of sugar produced – the darker brown the sugar, the higher the amount of molasses – which provides the characteristic flavour and texture. White sugar is made by removing all traces of molasses from the sugar.