Basic Nutrition

Last Updated: Feb 03, 2011, 15:38 PM IST

Proper nutritional planning is a must to sustain a healthy lifestyle besides satisfying our hunger. Therefore, knowledge of nutrition is essential so that people live in the best of their health, improve their abilities, and sustain and enjoy increasingly diverse lifestyle.
Major nutrients

Nutrients are divided into two parts as macronutrients and micronutrients. All macronutrients provide energy in variable measures, whereas micronutrients, like iron and cobalt, are protective in nature.

Some of the major nutrients in food which provide energy and essentials for our continued existence are:

Carbohydrates:
It is our main source of energy and is recommended that 55-60% of our daily calories should come from complex carbohydrates find in sugar, bread, cereals and vegetables.

Proteins:
Protein found in meat, fish, pulses, legumes, is essential for body’s growth and development. Nearly 25-30% is recommended for daily intake.

Fats:
Fat is also an essential component of our diet, especially in childhood, as it helps in brain development. At least 10-15 % of daily calories are suggested, though excessive intake may lead to many health problems. Fat is found in fried foods, cheese, butter, margarine and oils

Vitamin and Minerals:
Although vitamins and minerals are required in very tiny amount by our body, they are equally essential as other nutrients. Vitamins and minerals are usually known as protective nutrient, as they protect us from several ailments by strengthening our immune system. Vitamin A, B, C, D, E and K are the most common vitamins. Fruits and vegetables are main sources of vitamins.

Minerals can be found in varying amounts in a variety of foods such as meat, cereals, fish, milk and dairy foods, vegetables, fruit (especially dried fruit) and nuts.

Three main reasons why minerals are important:

* building strong bones and teeth
* controlling body fluids inside and outside cells
* turning the food we eat into energy

Essential minerals are: Calcium, iron, salt, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and sulphur.