The main nutrients are proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. Each nutrient has a different purpose.
Proteins assist with growth and repair of the body.
Proteins are found in animal products like meat, fish, cheese, milk and eggs. Vegetable sources include soya-bean products, pulses and nuts.
Carbohydrates are needed to give the body energy. There are two types of carbohydrate – starch and sugar.
- Starch is found in cereals, cornflour, potatoes, pasta and flour.
- Sugar is found in fruit, vegetables, honey, milk and malt products.
Fats help to provide concentrated sources of energy and help to insulate the body in cold weather. There are two main types.
- Saturated fats are usually obtained from animal sources, for example butter and lard. The exceptions are coconut and palm oils.
- Polyunsaturated fats come from vegetable sources, such as sunflower oil
Vitamins are needed in very small amounts for growth and health. The main vitamins are vitamin A, the B complex of vitamins, vitamin C and vitamin D.
Uses and sources of vitamins
Minerals are needed in small amounts to help the body function properly and stay strong. Calcium and iron are two important minerals.
Calcium is needed for the growth of healthy teeth and bones. Sources of calcium include milk, cheese, eggs, wholegrain cereals, green vegetables, bread and tofu.
Iron is needed for the formation of red blood cells. Sources of iron include red meat, green vegetables, eggs, lentils and bread.
Other minerals that the body needs include potassium, sodium, magnesium and zinc.