After all that Christmas and New Year binging, it’s time to eat healthy and feed your family all the right nutrients. RobinAge brings you some of the must-eats to include in your diet this year.
We all know that different foods contain different nutrients. But did you know that nutrients come in two categories—
Macronutrients are called ‘macro’ because we need them in large amounts. They are vital for every function we perform in the body because they give us the fuel our body needs. Without that energy, our body would not be able to perform the constant upkeep required to stay fit and healthy. These macronutrients come to us in the form of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
Fats help with normal growth and development and are a great source of energy. Fats help with the absorption of vitamins, provide cushioning for organs and help maintain cell membranes.
Proteins help with growth, tissue repair and immune function.
Micronutrients are nutrients that are needed in smaller quantities. Vitamins as well as minerals like copper, iodine, iron, manganese, selenium and zinc are some of the micronutrients essential to the body. They play an important role in human development and well-being, including the regulation of metabolism, heartbeat, cellular pH and bone density.
Lack of micronutrients can lead to stunted growth in children and increased risk of various diseases in adulthood. Without proper consumption of micronutrients, humans can suffer from diseases such as rickets (lack of vitamin D), scurvy (lack of vitamin C) and osteoporosis (lack of calcium).
Vitamins are available in two forms—water-soluble and fat-soluble.
- Water-soluble vitamins are easily lost through bodily fluids and must be replaced each day. Water-soluble vitamins include the B-complex vitamins and vitamin C. Vitamins B6 and B12 are two of the most well-known B-complex vitamins.
- Fat-soluble vitamins tend to accumulate within the body and are not needed daily. The fat-soluble vitamins are A, D, E and K.
Minerals are also available in two forms—macrominerals and microminerals.
- Macrominerals are needed in larger amounts and include calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium and potassium.
- Microminerals are only needed in trace amounts and include iron, copper, iodine, zinc and fluoride.
Here’s What You Need to Eat to Get Your Fill of Micronutrients:
- Calcium: milk, yoghurt, spinach and almonds
- Vitamin B12: red meat, fish, cheese and eggs
- Zinc: red meat, cashew nuts and garbanzo beans
- Potassium: bananas, spinach, potatoes and apricots
- Vitamin C: oranges, peppers, broccoli and bananas
Foods containing many micronutrients are considered nutrient dense. This ratio compares the number of calories the food provides with the number of nutrients it contains. Low-calorie foods with many micronutrients, such as fruits and vegetables, have a higher nutrient density.
When aiming to reach your desired levels of macronutrient and micronutrient intake, keep in mind some of the basic foods of a good diet. Get your children to eat plenty of green vegetables, fruits, lean fatty meats, nuts and grains. These contain a tonne of vitamins and minerals.
Nutrient-rich Foods to Be Included in a Diet:
- Sweet potatoes
- Pumpkin seeds
Antioxidants help your body survive the internal onslaught from free radicals. Every time you use oxygen for bodily processes, your body creates free radicals, which can damage cell structures. The antioxidants combine with these free radicals and prevent them from causing damage, thereby delaying the aging process too. You might wonder why children need antioxidants. The cells in our body start aging from the time we are born so the better care we take of ourselves, the healthier we will be in our old age.
Antioxidant-rich Foods You Should Include in Your Diet:
- Fresh grapes
- Red berries
- Dark green vegetables
- Sweet potatoes
- Dark chocolate
- Whole grains
(Image courtesy ThinkStock)