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What are macro- and micro-nutrients

Our bodies require a whole load of different nutritional foods in order to grow, develop, repair and feel good. Typically, these nutrients are split into two categories: macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). You’ve probably heard of these categories before, but what do they actually mean?


Macronutrients

The three macronutrients all have their own specific roles and functions in the body and supply us with calories or energy.  Each macronutrient provides us with energy: carbohydrates provides 4 calories per gram; protein also provides 4 calories per gram; and fat provides 9 calories per gram.  Each macronutrient is almost always found in every item of food, whether that’s a candy bar or a raw vegetable; the only difference is how the macronutrients are balanced.  However, each macronutrient plays a different role in the body’s functioning and so you need to adjust your macro intake accordingly!


Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are comprised of small chains of sugar which the digestive body breaks down into glucose to use as the body’s primarily energy source and therefore need to make up around 45-65% of a diet.

Some examples of good carbohydrates: Apples, bananas, cauliflower, carrots, oats, brown rice, millet, quinoa.


Protein

Protein is essential for repairing and regenerating body tissues and cells, a healthy functioning immune system and manufacturing hormones. This wouldn’t be possible without amino acids, which are found in protein-based foods. In total there are 20 types of amino acids,  9 of which are considered ‘essential’ and can only be found in certain foods.

Some examples of good proteins: Chicken, beef, lamb, fish, beans, pulses and legumes.


Fats

Fats are an essential part of a healthy diet and should account for about 15-20% what you consume. They help by improving brain development, overall cell functioning, protecting the body’s organs and even helping you absorb vitamins found in foods.

Some examples of healthy fats:    Almonds, walnuts, seeds, coconuts, olives, avocados.


Micronutrients

Micronutrients are not needed in the same quantities as macros, however they are still an important part of our diet. Micronutrients work in tandem with macronutrients to keep the body functioning and are crucial in order to maintain energy levels, metabolism, cellular function, and physical and mental wellbeing.

Micronutrients consist of vitamins and minerals which differ in basic ways.

  • Vitamins are organic and can be broken down by heat, air, or acid.  Some examples include: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D.

  • Minerals are inorganic and hold on to their chemical structure. That means the minerals in soil and water easily find their way into your body through the plants, fish, animals, and fluids you consume.  Some examples of minerals include: Calcium, Iron, Potassium and Zinc.

Learn more about the EatWell ToolKit App at: www.eatwelltoolkit.com

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