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5 most important nutrients and where to find them

Food pyramid

The following are five nutrients that we can’t live without. Combined with water intake, these nutrients can provide your body the perfect recipe for a healthy life. Eating a variety of healthy foods, as well as balancing out your meals by providing protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats, can ensure you are good to go!

  1. Protein: Why is protein important? It’s only the building block of our body’s cells, tissues, organs, hair, skin and eyes to name a few. It also provides energy and metabolism support. Focusing on lean proteins is key to reap the biggest benefits. Protein is found in lean meats, poultry (think chicken breast without the skin, loin cut of meat), beans, eggs, fish, nuts, and dairy products.
  2. Carbohydrates: This nutrient sure gets a bad reputation. It is actually vital in providing our body with its main source of energy. The key is to focus on healthy carbohydrates vs. refined and processed versions. Healthy choices include fruits, whole grains, beans, and some vegetables. These choices provide our bodies with vital vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber to help our bodies regulate blood sugars. Processed carbohydrates, think cupcakes, white breads, etc. , lack fiber as well as being higher in saturated fats  and added sugars
  3. Fats: Plain and simple, our bodies need fat. Fats provide us with energy, help our body absorb certain nutrients, maintain our core temperature, and have a satiating effect as well as flavor to our foods. Just like carbohydrates, all fats are not equal. Focusing on unsaturated forms is essential as they help to regulate inflammation and are linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.  Healthy fats are found in nuts, fish, olive and canola, olives, and avocados. Unhealthy fats, such as saturated and Trans fats, are found in whole-fat dairy products, cuts of meat, butter, and ice cream. Trans fats are also found in processed foods and margarine.
  4. Vitamins: Vitamins are very vital in our bodies- they help carry out and regulate body processes. They are divided into two groups: fat-soluble and water-soluble. Fat-soluble, including vitamins A, D, E, and K, can be stored in the body and need fat to be absorbed. Water soluble vitamins, including vitamin C and B-complex, are not stored in our bodies. It’s best to get our vitamins from foods but sometimes supplementation is necessary (i.e. Vitamin D deficiency).
  5. Minerals: Minerals are a must; they play a role in building our body’s blood, teeth, and bones. Like vitamins, they work hard at regulating body processes and each mineral has a specific role. For example, potassium is essential for maintaining fluid balance and heartbeat. Eating fruits, vegetables, lean meats, beans, nuts, and whole grains provides your body with substantial minerals.
ABOUT
Stephanie Welch, RD, CSP, LN swelch1@billingsclinic.org

Stephanie Welch, RD, CSP, LN is a registered dietician with the Billings Clinic Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism Center

8 comments on “5 most important nutrients and where to find them

  1. Eating a balanced diet, including the 5 most important nutrients is essential to medical weight management.

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