Saturday, August 21, 2010

Elements of Good Nutrition

elements of good nutrition
Next to the water we drink and air we breathe, food is basic to our existence. Food is necessary for our health and well-being. Without it, life ceases. With too much of it, the digestive organs are overworked and the person may be brought to an early grave. Moreover, it should be the right kind of food and the proper amount of each kind.

The main constituents of food may be classified into six groups: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. Some knowledge of each of these is needed if we are to eat properly.

Carbohydrates are simple sugars, or substances that can be reduced to simple sugars by hydrolysis. The main work of carbohydrates is to provide energy for the body. Each gram of carbohydrates that our body burns will yield four calories. Some common foods high in carbohydrates are: sweet potatoes, bread, cake, cookies, rice, and potatoes.

Proteins are made up of the same elements as carbohydrates, but they differ in that nitrogen and sometimes sulfur are present. Proteins are primarily utilized in the building and repair of body tissues. They are also energy-providing, giving four calories to the gram. However, since they are so expensive, they are not considered a chief source of energy in man’s diet. Eggs, fish, meat, milk, garbanzos, and soybeans are sources high in protein.

Of all the energy-giving substances, fats provide the most energy. They give nine calories for each gram of fat burned in the body. Fats are not only energy-providing, they also serve as padding around the internal organs, insulation for the body, carriers of the fat-soluble vitamins and lubricants of the gastrointestinal tract. Fats also improve the palatability of the diet. Some foods with a high fat content are: peanut butter, avocado, margarine, egg yolk, nuts and coconut.

In a diet, 10 to 15 percent of the total calories should come from protein, 25 to 35 percent from fat, and 50 to 60 percent from carbohydrates.

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