Carbohydrates are the major source of energy for the body. When digested, they are turned into glucose, or sugars that can be converted to glucose, and are absorbed into the small intestine and cells of other organs in the body.
When you hear of carbs chances are some bread or grain product is mentioned. However, carbs do not only come from grain products. The two kinds of carbohydrates, complex and simple, are found in various foods. Complex carbohydrates are found in grain foods, fruits, and vegetables. These are rich in fibers, minerals, and vitamins. Simple carbohydrates, on the other hand, are found in milk and milk products, refined sugars that are in things like cookies, cake, and syrup, and fruits; these carbohydrates do not offer significant amounts of nutrients.
Fats are another energy source for the body, but can be stored. Fats also help the body absorb vitamins, and are responsible for the growth and development of cells.
The four main types of fat are saturated and unsaturated (monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated). Unsaturated fats are typically the healthy type of fat and at room temperature are liquids, like oil. Polyunsaturated fats are found in oils (sunflower, corn, flax seed, canola), nuts, and fish in high amounts. Monosaturated fats are found in oils, as well as, seeds, and high-fat fruits. Saturated fats, however, are not only solid at room temperature like butter, but are recognized as the “unhealthy fat” and when consumed continuously in large quantities, may be related to significant health problems connected to obesity. These fats are found in meat products, butter/dairy based foods, some fruits, and certain oils.
Protein is a nutrient that is a very important component of building muscle and muscle mass. Proteins are critical to the body’s organs, tissues, blood, as well as its cells. This nutrient is made up of amino acids, which are organic compounds. Protein is commonly found and known for being in meat products but is also in food items such as nuts, vegetables, fruit, and grain products. This is also a nutrient that provides the body with sufficient energy when digested. Protein deficiency will lead to the body breaking down and using its existing proteins for energy. In muscles, this can lead to tissue loss, muscle weakening, cramping, and a loss of muscle mass.
Vitamins and Minerals are nutrients that are necessary to maintain good health and are found in food just like other nutrients.
There are thirteen vitamins in total—Vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and The B Vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, biotin, niacin, pantothenic acid, folic acid.
Each vitamin plays a different role in helping the body. For example, vitamin C, commonly known for being in citrusy fruits such as oranges, helps keep teeth, skin, and bones healthy while also helping with the process of wound healing and the immune system. Vitamin D, in dairy and dairy items such as milk, help with bone growth and strength. The calcium in milk is great for bones. One of the kinds of Vitamin A called beta carotene is in carrots. Vitamin A promotes eye sight and health in the retinas. Though the vitamin is commonly associated with carrots, it can be found in animal liver, some dairy products, and other foods.
Unlike the other basic nutrients, minerals are not produced by plants or animals and are not organic, but inorganic. Common minerals include sodium, iron, potassium, and calcium. Minerals are highly essential to normal bodily functions such as bone growth, cell development and growth, healthy functioning of the body’s organs, blood health, muscle oxygenation, and more. Various minerals are found in nuts, fruits, vegetables, meats of various animals, dairy, table salt, seeds, grain products, etc.