Good nutrition depends on eating all the essential nutrients - fats, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals, and water - and eating them in a balance that nourishes your body.
There are three main nutrients in all foods: carbohydrates, protein and fats.
Carbohydrates (carbs) are the body’s main source of energy and are essential for healthy muscles, tissues and brain function. They also help with the digestion process itself. When you eat carbohydrates, the process of chewing and digestion releases glucose (blood sugar), a simple sugar that our bodies need for energy. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds are good carbohydrate sources. Sugar, sugar-sweetened beverages and candy are also carbs, but they are not nutritious choices.
Protein is the major building material for cells throughout the body: blood, skin, organ tissue and muscle. It forms hormones and helps regulate the body’s metabolism — the rate of breathing and digesting food, among other things. Protein comes from animal sources like meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products as well as beans, soy products, nut and seeds.
Our bodies need some fat to stay healthy. They help carry vitamins and minerals through the blood and they “lubricate” tissues throughout the body. But too many or the wrong kind of fats — saturated and trans fats - can build up the in body’s tissues and arteries.
Nearly all of the foods in the main three food groups contain vitamins and minerals. Our bodies need them for key functions such as heart health, metabolism, bone growth, blood pressure control, and vision.