Nutrients and Balanced Diet

Objective

This topic gives you an overview of; 

  • Nutrients in your Food
  • Carbohydrates, Fats and Proteins
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins
  • Dietary Fibres and Water
  • Balanced Diet 

Nutrients in your Food 

Most food items, usually, have more than one nutrient. The major nutrients in our food are named carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. In addition, food contains dietary fibres and water which are also needed by our body. It is important to eat a wide range of food in order to stay healthy. 

Nutrients are essential to perform all daily and metabolic activities. Below are the nutrients needed in our daily life. 

Carbohydrates, Fats and Proteins

Carbohydrates mainly provide energy to our body. Fats also give us energy. In fact, fats give much more energy as compared to the same amount of carbohydrates. 

Foods containing fats and carbohydrates are also called ‘Energy Giving Foods’. Proteins are needed for the growth and repair of our body. Carbohydrates, Fats and Protein are composed of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen. 

Rich Sources of Carbohydrates

Rice, Potato, Banana, Papaya, Melon and Maize, etc. 

Rich Sources of Proteins

Soyabeans, Gram, Dal, Peas, Fish and Meat, etc. 

Rich Sources of Fat

Groundnuts, Milk, Butter, Cheese, Oils, Ghee, Egg, etc. 

Minerals 

Minerals are needed by our body in small amounts. Each one is essential for proper growth of body and to maintain good health. These are obtained from table salt, green vegetables and fruits. 

Some important minerals are: 

Calcium

Required for strengthening bones and teeth, blood clotting and muscle contraction.
Rich sources: Milk, meat, eggs, fish, pulses, vegetables, etc. 

Phosphorus

Required for strengthening bones and teeth, for production of ATP during cellular respiration, and conduction of nerve impulses.
Rich sources: Milk, meat, eggs, fish, pulses, vegetables, etc. 

Iron

Required for forming haemoglobin.
Rich sources: Green leafy vegetables, liver, etc. 

Iodine

Required for proper working of thyroid.
Rich sources: Vegetables, mineral water and iodised salt. 

Vitamins

Vitamins are organic components in food that are needed in very small amounts for growth and for maintaining good health. There are two types of vitamins: fat soluble and water soluble. 

Fat soluble vitamins are stored in fat tissues and liver in our body. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are all fat-soluble vitamins. Water soluble vitamins don't get stored as much in the body. Instead, they travel through bloodstream. Vitamin C and vitamin B complex vitamins are water soluble vitamins. 

Vitamin A

Promotes growth, vision.
Sources: Butter, egg yolk, milk, carrot, etc. 

Vitamin D

Helps the body to absorb calcium and phosphorus to form bones and teeth.
Sources: Fish liver oils, milk, eggs, etc. 

Vitamin E

Prevents the oxidation of vitamin A.
Sources: Meat, milk, whole wheat, etc. 

Vitamin K

Helps in clotting of blood during injuries.
Sources: Cabbage, spinach, leafy vegetables. 

Vitamin B Complex

Needed for a healthy brain, nerves and muscles.
Sources: Wheat, rice and liver. 

Vitamin C

Helps fight diseases like the common cold.
Sources: Oranges, tomatoes, lemons and guavas. 

Dietary Fibres and Water 

Besides these nutrients, our body needs dietary fibres and water. Dietary fibres are also known as roughage. Roughage is mainly provided by plant products in our foods. Roughage does not provide any nutrient to our body, but is an essential component of our food and adds to its bulk. This helps our body get rid of undigested food.

Main sources: Whole grains and pulses, potatoes, fresh fruits and vegetables.

Water helps our body to absorb nutrients from food. It also helps in throwing out some wastes from body as urine and sweat. Normally, we get most of the water that our body needs from the liquids we drink such as water, milk and tea. In addition, we add water to most cooked foods. 

Balanced Diet 

The food we normally eat in a day is our diet. For growth and maintenance of good health, our diet should have all the nutrients that our body needs, in right quantities. The diet should also contain a good amount of roughage and water. Such a diet is called a balanced diet. 

Eating the right kind of food is not enough. It should also be cooked properly so that its nutrients are not lost. Vitamin C gets easily destroyed by heat during cooking.Here is a Food Pyramid  for a balanced diet .  

Summary 

  • There is no single food that can supply all the nutrients. That's why it's important to include a variety of foods.
  • Proteins and minerals are needed for the growth and the maintenance of our body.
  • Vitamins help in protecting our body against diseases.
  • Water helps to lubricate the joints, helps to fight against infection and helps your memory.
  • Balanced diet provides all the nutrients that our body needs, in right quantities, along with adequate amount of roughage and water. 

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