Nutrition 101 – Building a Balanced and Healthy Diet
Nutrition is the study of nutrients present in food and how this affects one’s health.
Eating healthily is one of the best things you can do for your body. To do this, aim for a diet comprised of protein, carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables in moderation.
Protein foods provide essential nutrients that support proper cell functioning and disease protection, including dairy (milk, yogurt and cheese), meat, fish and poultry products; beans/legumes; and nuts and seeds. Healthy proteins should be low in saturated fat and sodium while high in fiber with minimal carbs and added sugars.
Calories provide energy from food and drinks, but our daily needs depend on factors like our gender, age, activity level and health goals. Aim for nutritious calories like those low in saturated fat, trans fat and added sugars when selecting meals or beverages with these macronutrients.
Nutrition classes can seem intimidating at first, but with some helpful hints you can excel at them and build an invaluable foundation for nursing.
Carbs, along with proteins and fats, are one of the body’s main fuel sources. Once consumed, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose (blood sugar) which provides instantaneous energy or stored as glycogen for later use in liver cells and muscles as glycogen stores.
Carbs can be found in foods like grains, fruits, vegetables and dairy products; sugary items like candy and soda count as carbohydrates as well as being listed under Total Sugars on food labels.
Natural sugars can be found in fruit and dairy, while added sugar is commonly present in soda, candy and packaged snacks. Therefore, it’s essential to read nutrition facts labels carefully – these labels should make a distinction between natural and added sugars.
Fats are fatty substances found in animal-derived food products such as meat and dairy, as well as plant-based ones like olives and nuts, that play an essential role in our bodies, helping us feel full after we eat and providing energy for daily activities. They serve many important functions that aid digestion as well as provide essential energy sources.
Healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) are easily accessible in vegetable oils, avocados, oily fish such as salmon and mackerel and certain nuts such as almonds and walnuts. Furthermore, they aid in the absorption of specific vitamins such as A and D.
A healthy diet should contain no more than 30 percent of its calorie intake from fats, with most coming from unsaturated sources. Focus on choosing foods low in saturated and trans fats while limiting how often you eat fried food products. Cutting back on sodium consumption and added sugar intake is also vital.
Vegetables are essential components of a nutritious diet. Low in calories and packed full of essential vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber – vegetables provide essential nutrition.
Vegetables may be divided into categories depending on which parts of the plant are utilized for food consumption (roots, stems, leaves, flowers and seeds). Vegetables tend to be consumed as part of meals rather than as snacks or desserts compared with fruits.
Vegetables are an excellent source of soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol levels. It’s best to eat various varieties of vegetables each week in order to get all of the essential vitamins and minerals your body requires, adding herbs such as rosemary for extra flavor in steamed or grilled dishes. Incorporate less sodium by opting for veggies with natural or reduced sodium levels.
An effective diet includes fruits as an integral component. Fruits contain important vitamins and minerals as well as health-promoting antioxidants that may reduce heart disease, cancer, inflammation and diabetes risk.
Apart from providing essential nutrients, fruits can also offer protection from cell damage and have positive impacts on digestive health. Studies have revealed that eating plenty of fibre-rich fruits may decrease cancer risks while potassium-rich fruit varieties may help bring blood pressure down.