Nutrition is the biological and physical process through which an organism uses food as a source of energy to support its daily life. It includes absorption, assimilation, metabolism, biosynthesis and excretion as well as all the processes that go on throughout an individual’s lifetime. The body needs certain foods and nutrients to survive and grow; therefore nutrition is very important for humans.
There are many different types of nutrition that we need to eat on a daily basis. These include the vitamins, minerals and nutrients which are required by the body. Each of these nutrients and minerals are equally important and play a vital role in keeping us healthy. However, some of the nutrients are required by the body more than others while some are more abundantly available than others. A good nutrition guide is therefore important to learn about the different types of nutrition and their relative importance.
Carbohydrates and Fats We need carbohydrates and fats for energy. Most of the carbohydrates are converted into glucose, which provides the energy we need to perform all our day to day activities. Some of the most common carbohydrates and fats are found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes like beans and lentils. Other less common carbohydrates and fats are available in nuts, seeds, eggs, milk and meat.
Nutrients are classified into three main categories according to their importance to a healthy diet. They are carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins. These three substances are the building blocks of the body and each of these substances are equally important for good nutrition. Carbohydrates and proteins are found in large quantities in green leafy vegetables, whole grain foods such as rice and oats, pastas and cereals and meats. The good nutrition guidelines for each of these food groups are as follows:
Vitamin and Mineral Nutrient – vegetables and fruits constitute a major part of an average diet. But the nutritional value of these foods is much lower compared to other types of foods. Vitamin and mineral nutrients are required for proper nutrition. This is because they help maintain the body’s tissues and organs in good shape. The nutritional values of fruits and vegetables are quite high.
Vitamin E and Zinc Nutrient – Foods that contain vitamin E and zinc are highly recommended by health experts for good nutrition. The vitamins in these food choices to help prevent heart diseases and cancer. However, excessive consumption of these nutrients can be harmful. Therefore, it is necessary to balance the amount of vitamin and zinc consumed in your diet. You can find the information about the proper amounts of each nutrient in the latest edition of the Dietary Guide to Healthy Eating. The study session 2 nutrients are as follows:
Nuts, Sesame Seeds, Sunflower seeds, Sweet Corn, Eggs, Beans, Legumes (pulses, beans, lentils), Peas, and Other Vegetables – these food choices are considered complete proteins in nutrition terms. They help in proper weight management, control cholesterol levels, and proper nutrition in general. It is also important to remember that some nuts and seeds are fat-filled.
Trans Fat – the term ‘trans fat’ has been widely used by many people to describe any type of fat found in commercial cooking oils, fried foods, ready-made meals, biscuits, or processed foods. This term is completely false; there is no such thing as trans fat. Trans fat found in margarine, hydrogenated oils, cookies, chips, etc., are called partially hydrogenated oils. The term ‘trans fat’ is widely used by health experts but it is completely false.
Carbohydrates – they provide fuel for the body’s metabolic processes. They are the main source of energy and are available in two forms, simple sugars (sucrose) and complex carbohydrates (complex carbohydrates). Health experts feel that both types are equally helpful in reducing obesity. Health experts also believe that carbohydrates can be eaten in any quantity, as long as they are consumed in moderate quantities. They believe that whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and other fiber rich foods provide enough energy and nutrients to make up for the calorie intake.
Macronutrients – the macronutrients refer to the essential nutrients required by the body to maintain its normal functioning. The recommended diet usually consists of five to six servings of fruits and vegetables daily, along with a small portion of healthy meats. A diet high in proteins can improve bone strength, regulate blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and prevent cancer. A diet low in fat is essential for weight loss, while a diet rich in carbohydrates can slow the aging process and increase lean muscle mass.
Types of Nutrients – there are different types of nutrients available in foods. Examples include carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Some examples include sugar, which is a simple sugar derived from starch or plant material, fats, which come in the form of vegetable oil, milk, butter, or other solids derived from animals. Vitamins are either present in fruits and vegetables or in various forms such as pills, powder, or juice. Some minerals are found naturally in different foods, while others need to be taken in supplements, like folic acid.
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