Food Nutrients

about imageMan needs a wide range of nutrients to perform various functions in the body and to lead a healthy life. The nutrients include proteins, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. These nutrients are chemical substances which are present in the food we eat daily. The foods containing these nutrients which we consume daily are classified as cereals, legumes (pulses), nuts and oilseeds, vegetables, fruits, milk and milk products and flesh foods (fish, meat and poultry)
Man needs all these nutrients, i.e.. energy, proteins, vitamins, minerals in different amounts to grow, live and thrive. Since man derives all the nutrients he needs through the diets he eats, his diets must be well balanced to provide all the nutrients in proper proportions. In planning a diet for the community, foods have to be chosen in proper amounts to provide all the nutrients in required amounts and also keeping in view the dietary habits and availability of foods.


Carbohydrates are sugar compounds made by plants when the plants are exposed to light. This process is called photosynthesis.

Uses of Carbohydrates

  • It protects your muscles.
  • It regulates the amount of sugar circulating in your body.
  • It provides nutrients for friendly bacteria in intestinal tract that helps in digestion.
  • It assist in body's absorption of calcium.
  • It helps in lowering cholesterol level and regulate blood pressure.


Caloric intake must be increased to ensure proper development of the fetus. The amount of weight gained during a single pregnancy varies among women. The Institute of Medicine recommends an overall pregnancy weight gain for women starting pregnancy at a normal weight, with a body mass index of 18.5-24.9, of 25-35 pounds (11.4-15.9 kg). Women who are underweight, with a BMI of less than 18.5, may need to gain between 28-40 lbs. Overweight women are advised to gain between 15-25 lbs, whereas an obese woman may expect to gain between 11-20 lbs. Doctors and dietitians may make different, or more individualized, recommendations for specific patients, based on factors including low maternal age, nutritional status, fetal development, and morbid obesity.

During pregnancy, insufficient or excessive weight gain can compromise the health of the mother and fetus. All women are encouraged to choose a healthy diet regardless of pre-pregnancy weight. Exercise during pregnancy, such as walking and swimming, is recommended for healthy pregnancies. Exercise has notable health benefits for both mother and baby, including preventing excessive weight gain.

Sources of carbohydrates :

Fruits, vegetables, and grains. Milk and its products contain carbohydrates. Meat, fish, poultry - no carbohydrates.

Build a nutritious diet:

  • 6-11 servings a day of grain foods (bread, pasta, cereals) plus
  • 2-4 servings of fruits and
  • 3-5 servings of vegetables

One gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories


What is it?

Proteins are the building blocks that grow and repair your body. Proteins are needed not only for muscle but also for hair, skin and internal organs. Some proteins travel around your body in the blood as hormones, enzymes and red blood cells. Protein is unique because it is the only food source of nitrogen, which is essential to all plant and animal life. Proteins are made up of chains of amino acids. For each protein, there are specific amino acids in a specific amount, and they are joined in a unique order. This is what makes a chicken different from cheese or a fingernail different from a strand of hair. There are 22 amino acids. Eight of these are called the essential amino acids because they cannot be made by the body and must be provided by the diet.

Fats and Oils

Fats and its compounds are known as lipids. Liquids are called oils and solids are fats. A gram of fat contains 9 calories.

Uses of Fat

  • Visible fats :
    • provides a source of stored energy
    • gives shapes to body
    • cushions the skin
    • acts as an insulation blanket that reduces heat loss
  • Invisible fat: This hidden fat,
    • is part of every cell membrane
    • is a component of myelin ,
    • is a shock absorber that protects the organs
    • is a constituent of hormones and other biochemical’s

Risk factor-

Saturated and unsaturated fatty acids

Saturated fat: are solid at room temperature and get harder when chilled.

Monounsaturated fat: are liquid at room temperature and thicker when chilled

Polyunsaturated fat: are liquid at room temperature and stay liquid when chilled.

Types of cholesterol

  • LDL(bad cholesterol) :
    • protectors against atherosclerosis. It is main carrier of cholesterol
  • HDL
    • it rescues LDL pieces and brings them back to the liver
  • VLDL
    • It is main carrier of triglycerides
    • It is less harmful than LDL
    • It carries fat to the other parts of the body.


What is it ?

Dietary fiber are structural components of plants. The type and amount of fiber in plants vary from species to species.

A common misconception about fiber is that it is not digested by enzymes in the body and therefore provides no calories or nutrients. But the category "fiber" includes chemicals that are not fibrous, materials that can be dissolved, and some substances that can be digested partially. We eat quite a complex mixture of fibers.

Dietary fiber is a broad generic term; it includes the following chemicals, which form the structural components of plants, including many of the plant foods we eat:

  • cellulose
  • hemi cellulose
  • lignin
  • pectin's
  • mucilage's
  • gums

Where do you get it?

About eight grams of daily fiber intake should be in the form of soluble fibers, such as:

  • fruits, especially apples and citrus
  • vegetables, especially leafy green varieties
  • oats

Major sources of insoluble fibers include:

  • wheat bran
  • whole grains
  • legumes
  • most fruits and vegetables

A good source of fiber should have at least three grams of fiber. High-fiber foods provide five grams or more. The accompanying chart lists a variety of foods and their fiber content.

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