Complete Food Guide: Six major nutrients and their functions


Major Nutrients

The body utilizes nutrients for growth, maintenance, and repair. There are six major categories of nutrients that the body needs – carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It is essential to consume these nutrients to build bodies and maintain health. Inadequacies, excesses, and instability in diet can produce negative impacts on health, which may lead to diseases.

Classification of Nutrients

On the amount of the nutrients that each person needs to consume on a day, are grouped into two classes. These are macronutrients, should be consumed in quite large amounts and micronutrients, and are only needed in small amounts. Macronutrients include carbohydrates, fats, proteins, fiber, and water. Micronutrients include minerals and vitamins.

Despite the fact that most foods are combos of nutrients, most of them contain a lot of one particular nutrient and a minimal of the other nutrients.


Carbohydrates are essential to provide the body with glucose. They are usually separated into two groups: simple carbohydrates, which digest rapidly, and complex carbohydrates, which digest gradually.

Carbohydrates are desired in significant amounts by the body. Certainly, up to 65% of our energy arises from carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are fuel for the reason that they are quickly converted into energy in the form of glucose, which all tissues and cells readily use.

For the brain, kidneys, central nervous system and muscles to perform effectively, they need carbohydrates.

These carbohydrates are often stored in the muscles and the liver, where they are eventually used for energy.

The main sources of carbohydrates are bread, wheat, potatoes, maize, rice, pasta, macaroni, banana, sweets, sugarcane, sweet fruits, and honey.


Protein is the major constitutional component of cells and is responsible for the developing and repair of body tissues.

Protein is broken down into amino acids, building blocks of protein.

Protein is needed for healthy muscles, skin, and hair.

Proteins are desired in our diets for growth and to strengthen the immune system.

Proteins perform an essential role in building essential hormones and enzymes, protecting lean muscle mass and providing energy in times when carbohydrates are not readily available.

Pregnant women need protein to build their bodies and of the babies and placentas, to make extra blood.

The main sources of proteins include meats, chicken, eggs, breast milk, beans, groundnuts, lentils, fish, cheese and milk.


Fats guide your body to create fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamin D. Healthy fats are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.

Sources of monounsaturated fats are nuts, olives, and avocados.  Sources of polyunsaturated fats are fish and seafood.

Certain types of fats are bad for health, just like trans-fat and saturated fat, both of which raise your risk of heart disease.

Fat is an energy source, when consumed, increases the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

Choose healthy alternatives such as omega-3-rich foods like fish, walnuts and vegetable-based oils.

Fats and oils are powerful sources of energy and so are essential for young children.

Fat helps protect your body, allowing you to maintain your body temperature.

Fat also blankets organs, which can protect them from trauma.

Fats are grouped into saturated and unsaturated fats.

Saturated fats are generally solid at cool temperatures. Eating too much-saturated fat is not good for an individual’s health, as it can cause heart and blood vessel problems.

Unsaturated fats are generally liquid at room temperature. These types of fats are healthy fats. Examples include fats from fish, oilseeds (sesame and sunflower), maize oil and groundnut oil and breast milk.

Fat is found in meat, chicken, milk products, butter, creams, avocado, cooking oils, cheese, fish and ground nuts.


Fiber is a fusion of different carbohydrates which are not consumed like other nutrients but pass through the digestive tract nearly unchanged.

Foods rich in fiber are vegetables like cabbage, carrots, cassava; fruits like banana and avocado; peas and beans; whole-grain cereals like wheat flour and refined maize or sorghum.

Fiber reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and helps maintain normal blood glucose levels.

Fiber helps the digestive system to absorb nutrients.

Fiber can help to lower blood cholesterol.

Fiber makes you sense satisfied and so allows controlling appetite.

Two forms of fiber are insoluble and soluble.

Insoluble fiber contains cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignin. It helps your bowel to move food by making feces smooth and bulky. This type of fiber helps prevent constipation. Sources include beans, brown rice, fruits with edible seeds, lentils, maize, oats, pulses, wheat bran.

Soluble fiber contains gums and pectin. This type of fiber minimizes cholesterol levels and controls blood sugar. Sources are all fruit and vegetables, apples, barley, citrus, legumes, oats, pears, strawberries.


Vitamins are groups of related substances present in small amounts in foods and are necessary for the body to function normally. Vitamins are also called protective foods.

Essential vitamins consist of vitamins A, B complex, C, D, E, K, and folate.

Vitamins are vital for healthy eyesight, skin, and bones.

Vitamins may reduce the risk of lung and prostate cancer, and are strong antioxidants.

Vitamins improve the immune system and help the body heal.

The body requires vitamins to grow and develop.

A vitamin deficiency can lead to osteoporosis, scurvy, a weakened immune system, premature aging, and even certain cancers.

Vitamin C is necessary for the synthesis of collagen, which gives structure to blood vessels, bone, and ligaments.

Rich sources include citrus fruits, strawberries, and peppers. Folate found in foods helps to avoid birth defects.

 Vitamins are grouped into two categories:

Fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, and K) are soluble in fats. They are insoluble in water. So these are used only if there is adequate fat in the body.

Water-soluble vitamins (vitamins B and C, and folic acid) are soluble in water and so they cannot be kept in the body.


Minerals are important for proper human health. Essential minerals include calcium, iron, zinc, iodine, fluorine, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and chromium.

Deficiencies can result in critical health conditions such as brittle bones and poor blood oxygenation.

Sodium helps to keep fluid volume outside of the cells and helps cells to function normally.

Potassium keeps fluid volume inside and outside of cells and helps prevent the excess rise of blood pressure with increased sodium intake.

Calcium helps to manage and build strong bones and teeth. It also helps with nerve signal transmission, keeping healthy blood pressure, and muscle contraction and relaxation.

Iron can handle red blood cells and hormone creation, while zinc enhances the immune system and wound healing.

Minerals are substances that permit the body to grow and develop properly.

Much like vitamins, minerals help support the body. They are essential for many body functions, including building strong bones and teeth, regulating your metabolism, and staying properly hydrated.

Rich sources include bananas, potatoes, and tomatoes.

If people are to stay healthy they need to eat a mixed diet of different foods that comprise the appropriate amount of nutrients.

Realizing the value of the primary six elements of nutrition helps you prepare a balanced diet. When identifying the right nutrition, you need to consider your weight, height, age, gender and activity level.

you should go to a certified dietitian for proper guidance. Good luck and happy, healthy living to you!



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