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
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.
Vitamins and Minerals
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.
- It is essential to good health that we get a healthy balance of vitamins and minerals. The best way to do this is to eat a well balanced diet with a good amount of fruits, vegetables, fortified foods, whole grains, beans, protein, and dairy products.
- Although vitamins and supplements can be beneficial, they can also be harmful for some patients. Tell your doctor if you are taking any over-the-counter vitamins and supplements, and talk to him or her before adding any new vitamins or supplements.