Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body. Its major sources are from Grains, Fruits, and Vegetables. There are two sources of carbohydrates: Complex, and Simple.
Complex carbohydrates consist of two types, starch and dietary fiber. Starches have to be broken down before your body will be able to utilize it as a source for glucose through digestion. Many of our foods contain starch, such as; potatoes, dry beans, corn, grains, breads and cereals. Dietary fiber is important because it helps aid in digestion and has many health benefits, for example, fiber can help lower your blood cholesterol, risk of diabetes, and heart disease. Fiber is found in: Fruits and Vegetables, Grains and Whole Grain Foods, and dry beans and peas.
Simple Carbohydrates consist of sugars that are found naturally in foods. Fruits, vegetables, and milk/milk products. They also consist of sugars that have been added to foods during processing or refining of those foods. The importance of knowing the difference is that foods containing naturally-occurring sugars offer more nutrients than those that contain added.
A major source of energy, fats aid in your body’s absorption of certain essential vitamins, which are important for overall health, growth, and development for all ages. Let’s face it, fats make food better tasting and help to feel full!
There are different types of fat. Mono and Poly Unsaturated, Saturated, and Trans fat. Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats are both found in a liquid state at room temperature, whereas Saturated and Trans fats are solids at room temperature.
Monounsaturated fats can aid in reduction of blood cholesterol levels and lower risk for heart disease and stroke when used in exchange of Saturated and Trans fats. It is also a great source for an essential antioxidant vitamin, Vitamin E.
Polyunsaturated fats can also be a benefit to your health because not only do they offer the same benefits as monounsaturated fat, but it also include essential fats such as omega-6 and omega-3; fat that your body can’t produce on its own. This fat in moderation can be a great health benefit when used to replace saturated and Trans fat.
Saturated and Trans fats are fats that should be avoided wherever possible. These two fats in excess can raise blood cholesterol levels, especially bad cholesterol (LDLs), and increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Foods that contain high levels of saturated fats also contain high levels of cholesterol. This in turn can raise your blood cholesterol.
For more information on fats, visit the American Heart Association’s Fats 101 page.
Minerals are naturally occurring, inorganic solids with a definite chemical composition and a specific crystalline structure.
Dietary minerals, which are not actually real minerals, are chemical elements, other than oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, and hydrogen that are required by living organisms for specific bodily functions throughout the body. These minerals are classified as Macro- and Micro minerals: Macro-minerals are those that mainly required, while Micro-minerals (or trace minerals) are only needed in minuscule amounts. Minerals are already found in most foods that we eat.
Vitamins are organic compounds that are required in small amounts by an organism as a nutrient.
Each vitamin has a different function within the body such as: functioning as hormones, antioxidants, and assist in the regulation and signaling of cell or tissue growth. Vitamins are primarily obtained through food consumption, but have been made into chemicals and sold in pill form for the supplementation of in taking vitamins through a person’s diet. Major sources of vitamins are fruits, vegetables, and grains; also found in meat and dairy products.
Did you know that almost two-thirds of our body weight is water? 83% of blood, 75% of muscle, 74% of brain, and 22% of bone is water. Water is so important that with complete absence of water a person would perish within a few days. Water is necessary for many bodily functions such as: absorption of many nutrients, lubrication of skin and joints, digestion, regulation of body temperature, and many other functions. Although water is found in many of the foods that we eat, the best source is from, you guessed it, water.
The recommended intake of water is six to eight 8 ounce glasses of water per day. This may increase due to many factors such as activity level, gender, and climate.
Protein is an essential nutrient that we intake from our foods for building and maintenance of muscle, bone, and other body tissue; it is also important for regulating internal water and acid-base balance. We get amino acids that our body does are not able to make on its own. Protein comes from meat dairy, beans, nuts, eggs, and even some grains. Since it is something that our body stores differently than fat and carbohydrates, it is important to eat protein on a daily basis.
The RDA recommends .4 grams of protein per pound of body weight; however research shows that people require varying amounts per day.
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