What are Nutrients?
Nutrients are chemicals usually found in foods that out bodies need to stay healthy.
Macronutrients: ‘Macro’ means ‘large’ so macronutrients are nutrients that we need large amounts of like carbohydrates.
Micronutrients: ‘Micro’ means ‘small’ so micronutrients are nutrients that we need small amounts of like fluorine.
The two main types of fats are from animals and plants. Butter is from animal fats and margarine is from plants. Fat is solid at room temperature like butter, suet, and lard, and liquid at room temperature like oil.
Suet is a fat found around the internal organs of animals like cows and mutton. Suet from mutton (old sheep) fat and raw beef is most commonly used around the kidneys and loins because this is the hard fat.
Suet is used in sweet mincemeat, steamed puddings like Christmas puddings and pastry.
Saturated Fat: This fat comes from animal products such as milk, butter, cheese and beef. Consuming to much saturated increases your cholesterol level, which could lead to a heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular disease.
Unsaturated fat: Avocados, nuts, oily fish and olives contain unsaturated fat. Unsaturated fats are good for your heart and they have a different structure to saturated fats.
Trans Fats: Also known as hydrogenated fat, are a bit like saturated fat, only worse. They’ve been artificially processed through hydrogenation, this makes the fat more rich and hard to extend the shelf like of processed foods like cakes and biscuits. Some manufacturers have stopped using trans fats altogether because of their detrimental effects to our health.
You must check food packaging carefully and avoid products with hydrogenated fats and/or oils written on the label. Over time, Trans fats can lead to heart disease heart attacks, high cholesterol and strokes.
Carbohydrates give us energy. Starchy carbohydrates release energy slowly making us feel fuller for longer so that we’re less likely to snack. Carbohydrates are found in starchy foods like pasta, potatoes, bread and rice. These foods form one of the biggest food groups on the eat well plate, so we should ensure that we obtain our energy from mostly carbohydrate sources.
Minerals are crucial for forming and maintaining the skeletal structure of the body, soft tissues and body fluid.
Calcium, phosphorus and magnesium are minerals that help the skeletal structure.
Calcium aids the formation of strong bones and teeth and can be found in cheese, milk, tofu, yoghurt and fish bones.
Phosphorous can be found in nuts and seeds, meat, eggs, fish, cheese, and cereals.
Iron is needed for haemoglobin by replacing red blood cells. This helps to keep our red blood cells oxygenated. Women need more iron than men because of menstruation. Red meats contain high amounts of iron, so does liver, kidney and egg yolk.
Iodine is needed in very small amounts to regulate metabolism. Metabolism determines how quickly or slowly our bodies use up energy and burn off calories. Iodine can be found in seafood.
Fluorine is also found in seafood and is needed in very small amounts to harden the enamel in teeth.
Vitamin A is found in carrots, leafy vegetables, oil fish, eggs, and dairy products like cheese and milk. It’s needed for healthy skin and good eyesight. It also helps to keep mucous membranes healthy.
Vitamin C is found in colourful fruit like apricots, strawberries and blueberries. It’s also found in raw green vegetables. Our bodies need Vitamin C to help fight against infection, help the absorption of iron and support the formation of bones and teeth.
Vitamin D is mostly found in animal foods like fish, liver and oil. It’s needed for the formation of bones and teeth.
Vitamin E is found in cereal oils, eggs, liver and meat. It helps the lungs and red cell membranes to function properly.
Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables like spinach and rocket, fish and liver. It helps the body to heal itself by clotting blood to stop bleeding.