What are nutrients? Have you ever asked yourself what really nutrients are, and which nutrients are good for us, which are bad, and how to choose the food with the most nutritional values?
The public is bombarded with messages about nutrition, and it is often difficult for people to distinguish good information from bad. I have always been interested in nutrition, and I will tell you that there aren’t two truths when we talk about nutrients.
Essential are the nutrients, which our body needs for maintenance, growth and repair of tissues. The six essential nutrients are:
And needed in smaller quantities:
Every food we eat has different nutrient value which we can compare by properly using the FOOD LABEL.
First and most importantly before I break the subject down to a little details, here are how much macronutrients our body needs everyday –
CARBOHYDRATE is a nutrient of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Carbs are essential source of energy in the body. There are three categories of carbohydrates: monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides. The monosaccharides and disaccharides are sometimes called simple sugars. The most important simple sugar in our body is glucose. Polysaccharides are complex carbohydrate. Fruit juices, soft drinks and candy are full with simple sugars. Rice, pasta and whole-grain breads are foods, that are high in complex carbohydrate. It’s recommended that 45%-65% of a person’s daily calories come from carbohydrate. The recommended dietary allowance for carbs is 130 g. a day but the average carbohydrate intake of Americans is well beyond that. The majority of carbohydrate calories should come from complex carbohydrate. Foods with added sugar should be limited. You should eat more complex carb rather than simpl, because you get more essential nutriants compared to the calories it contains.
The dietary fiber is polysaccharide that is found in plants, can not be broken down by the human digestive system, and helps food move quickly, which prevents hemorhoids, constipation and cancers of the digestive system. Men should consume 38g. a day and women 25g. a day. One gram of carbohydrate releases 4 kcal of energy.
The functions performed by FAT are temperature regulation, protection of vital organs, distribution of vitamins, energy production and formation of cell membranes. Fat is a nutrient composed of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen with chemical structure different than carbs. Triglycerides provide much of the energy during rest and low-intensity exercise during aerobic metabolism. Phospholipids are important constituents of cell membranes. Lipoproteins allow fat to travel through the bloodstream. Cholesterol is used in forming cell membranes and making steroidal hormones. You should consume no more than 300 mg. of cholesterol each day. It’s recommended that 20% to 35% of a person’s daily calories come from fat. Sources of dietary fat come from animals and plants. Animal sources of food gives us primarily Saturated fat. Plant sources of saturated fat is palm and coconut oil. Saturated fat relates to increased cardiovascular diseases. Unsaturated fat is typically liquid at room temperature. It’s found in corn, peanut and canola. Trans fat is unsaturated fat that is found in many processed baked goods and links to negative health outcomes. The intake of trans fat should be as low as possible.
Omega-3 fatty acid and omega-6 fatty acid can be found in fish, walnuts, canola oil, vegetable oils, nuts, avocados and soybeans. Omega-6 are called polyunsaturated fatty acids and can not be made by the body. They must be included in our diet. For omega 3 men should consume-1.6 g. a day and 1.1 g. a day-women. For omega 6 men should consume -17 g. and 12 g. for women. One gram of fat releases 9 kcal of energy.
PROTEIN is a substance composed of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. Protein is a combination of amino acids. The order of the linked amino acids provides the unique structure and function of protein. Here are some of the most common functions-oxygen carrier, allow muscle contraction, fight disease, clot blood, act as messenger and so on. There are eight essential amino acids that the body cannot produce and so must be part of your diet. Protein is found in both meat and plant. Animal sources are meat, milk, egg and plant sources – beans, vegetables, nuts and grains. It’s recommended that 10% to 35% of a person’s daily calories come from protein. This amount ensures adequate protein for growth, maintenance and repair of cells. Protein is used as energy in quite small amounts less than 5%. However, during long exercises lasting more than one hour protein may supply up to 15% of the body’s energy needs. One gram of protein releases 4 kcal of energy. See also whey protein.
By choosing nutrient – rich foods, you can build a healthier eating plan that promotes health and wellness. Have a balance diet that balancing between carbohydrate, fat, protein, and live a healthy and happy life.