Nutrition facts

Summary:
Article about nutrients, what consitute nutrients i.e. carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, mineral salts & water, what is diet and the five main food groups.

The Balanced Diet
A nutrient is a substance that the body digests, absorbs and utilizes to perform basic life processes. There are many nutrients and they are classified into different categories depending upon their chemical nature and the function they play. Nutrients that are present in food are:

Carbohydrates
Proteins
Fats
Vitamins
Mineral salts
Water

Food substances generally contain a number of nutrients. For example, starchy foods like potatoes and bread not only contain carbohydrates (in the form of starch) but also smaller quantities of proteins and vitamins. However, in general day to day usage foods are still described as “carbohydrate” or “protein” depending on the nutrient that is present in the highest proportion in them. Fiber-an important component of food, is not a nutrient in the same sense like carbohydrates, fats or proteins. It is not digested or absorbed by the body but it has beneficial effects on the digestive system.

The diet is a combination of foods consumed by ab individual. For a healthy body, a healthy balanced diet is essential. A balanced diet provides the correct amount of all the nutrients to meet the requirements of the body. A balanced diet contains all the nutrients in the right proportion and is achieved by eating a variety of food substances. It requires planning and a certain amount knowledge to ensure a balanced diet. Foods of similar origin and nutritive value are grouped into food groups and a certain number of servings from each group is needed for achieving a balanced diet. There are five main five food groups. These are:

Bread, rice, cereal and pasta
Fruit and vegetables
Meat and fish
Dairy products
Fats, oils and sweets

Bread, rice, cereal and pasta
These foods contain carbohydrates and provide energy. Most of the foods that come under the category also provide energy. Most of the calories should come from this food group. It is recommended to eat at least 6-11 servings from this food group on a daily basis.

One serving = One slice of bread or One ounce of cereal

Fruit and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber and contain low fat. It is advised to consume 5-9 servings from this food group.

One serving = One apple, orange or banana or 100 grams of vegetables or 125 ml of fruit or vegetable juice

Meat and fish
Meat and fish are rich in proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. It is advised to take only 2-3 servings as these contain high amounts of fat.

One serving = One egg or 80 grams of lean cooked meat

Dairy products
Dairy products include milk, cheese and yogurt. These are rich in calcium and vitamins. These are also rich in fats. It is advised to consume 2-3 servings of dairy products daily.

One serving = 250 ml milk or yogurt or 50 cheese

Fats, oils and sweets
These foods are rich in calories and have little other nutritional value. These should be used in very low quantities.

Some individuals may need a different diet. Pregnant women need more energy to support the growing baby. Babies and growing children need more fat as they have higher growth rates.

Avoid excessive alcohol and stop smoking

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