nutrients

The nutrients we require can be gathered from all of the various food groups above. However each food group will supply different quantities of nutrient, for example there will be more carbs in a loaf of bread than an apple.

Unfortunately the subject of nutrition isn’t exactly simple, with carbohydrates you have complex carbs and carbs from sugars, with fats there’s trans fats, saturated fats, unsaturated fats etc. Therefore a table has been created to try and simplify matters and for you to refer back to, this table includes all the main nutrients and the benefits they have, the different types of each nutrients and the food groups that they can be gained from.

Nutrient Benefits Food Group
FATS
Saturated Fats Although not seen as a health benefit, saturated fats do play a part in keeping our lungs healthy and aid the immune system.

What’s important is that the amount of saturated fats we consume is within a healthy range. It is recommended that no more than 10% of our calories should come from saturated fats.

Too much saturated fats could result in high blood pressure and heart disease.

Found in animal products like meat and full-fat dairy .
Unsaturated Fats Unsaturated fats include poly-un saturates, mono-un saturates, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. They all help reduce cholesterol and aid in absorbing vitamins.

It is recommended that we consume more unsaturated fats than saturated fats in our diets.

Found in vegetable, rapeseed and olive oils and spreads. Also found in avocados, nuts, seeds and oily fish.
Trans Fatty Acids There is a good trans fat, this is the one found naturally in animal products such as beef, lamb and dairy products. It is called CLA (conjugated lionelic acid) and studies have shown that CLA supplements reduce body fat (see supplements).

The bad Trans fats derive from hydrogenated vegetable oils which were created to go in commercially packaged foods as an alternative to oils high in saturated fats. However just like its predecessor it has been proven to increase LDL cholesterol (Bad cholesterol) and decrease HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol).

CLA (good), is found naturally in animal products such as beef, Lamb and dairy products. Also available as a supplement.

Bad trans fats can be found in commercially packaged foods such as ready meals and many fast foods.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids Omega 3 fatty acids are poly-unsaturated fatty acids. Studies have shown they can help reduce blood pressure and also act as an anticoagulant to prevent blood from clotting.

A diet rich in omega 3 my also help lower triglycerides (stored body fat) and increase HDL cholesterol ( good cholesterol). Also shown to help improve brain function along with omega 6 fatty acids.

Mainly found in fish such as mackerel, herring, sardines and salmon. Can also be found in green leafy vegetables, soy, nuts and seeds, cooking oils and some baked goods and eggs that have been fortified with omega 3.
Omega 6 Fatty Acids Shown to help improve brain function and natural growth along with omega 3 fatty acids, however in order to gain optimum health benefits we should consume no more that four times the amount of omega 6 to every omega 3. So that’s no more than 5.2g of omega 6 per day and at least 1.3g of omega 3 per day.

Too much omega 6 has been linked to heart disease.

Omega 6 must be obtained through the diet as it isn’t developed naturally in the body.

Found in nuts, seeds, fatty fish and unrefined whole grains. Sunflower seeds and walnuts generally containing the highest amount of omega 6 per 100g.
CARBOHYDRATES
Simple (Sugars) It is advised that you should limit your intake of simple sugars, although simple sugars can be valuable in providing quick boosts of energy in times of need, these types of sugar have limited nutritional benefit and excessive consumption can lead to health problems. (However, simple sugars can be useful for athletes when training or competing. See Sports Nutrition) Sweets, chocolate, biscuits, cakes and anything with added table sugar. Low amounts are found in some fruits.
Complex (Starches) Starches (large molecules of sugar) are highly important for providing the body with energy, this is because starch provides most of the glucose our body needs and Glucose is the only energy source our brain uses.

Due to molecules in starch being made up of many sugars, it takes longer to be broken down in the stomach therefore sugars are released more slowly into the blood stream. This helps to avoid unwanted peaks in blood sugar levels. (The speed in which sugars are absorbed into the bloodstream is very important as far as sports performance is concerned. Scientists developed the Glycaemic Index which shows how different foods have different effects on blood sugar levels. This is described more accurately in the Sport Nutrition section).

Pasta, bread, oats, cereals, potatoes, beans, lentils, noodles, rice and fruit.
Complex (Fibre) Fibre is a form of complex starches that cannot be broken down in the stomach into sugars, therefore cannot be digested and turned into energy.

Fibre is an important component of a healthy balanced diet as it helps the digestive system to process food and absorb nutrients. It has also been proven to lower blood cholesterol and help control blood sugar levels, which in turn lowers appetite.

Whole grains and wholemeal foods. Pulse, maize, oats, lentils, fruits with edible seeds, beans, brown rice, whole wheat flower and wheat bran.
PROTEIN
Whey Protein Whey protein is derived form milk and may help to stimulate muscle growth and help to minimize muscle protein breakdown during and immediately after high-intensity exercise.

Whey has a higher biological value than most other protein sources. It is digested and absorbed relatively rapidly, making it useful for promoting post-exercise recovery.

Studies have shown that whey protein contains amino acids that help support the body’s immune system.

Dairy products such as milk, cheese, eggs and butter.

High amounts of Whey Protein can be found in Whey Protein supplements such as shakes and protein bars.

Micellar Casein Micellar Casein is a milk protein concentrate made using an ultra filtration process so that the casein proteins don’t suffer any changes in PH or any other process damages. Micellar Casein is generally made up of 80% casein to 20% whey.

Micellar Casein is known for its slow release properties as it is a high anti catabolic protein. It is high in the amino acid Glutamine which is vital to muscle repair.

There are many opinions on Micellar Casein and Whey protein as a supplement and which is best to use. In general it is best to experiment what is best for you if you are aiming to increases muscle mass and size, as explained in the Sports Nutrition section of the site.

Milk and specific protein supplements.
Egg Protein Eggs are an extremely high source of protein ( 1 egg can contain over 6g of protein) and are also very nutrient dense,containing vitamins B, C and E among other useful nutrients.

Eggs do contain high amounts of cholesterol (1 egg contains about 212mg, RDA is about 300mg per day), however cholesterol in food doesn’t have as big an impact on blood cholesterol as once thought.

Eggs can contain more than 5g of fat. One way of avoiding consuming too much of the fats in eggs when using more than 1 for cooking is to take away some of the yolks away and use just the egg whites which still contain most of the protein and nutrients yet none of the fat. See ‘eggs’ in the Nutritional Values pages.

Anything containing eggs, for example pancakes and quiche. Also available as supplement.
Soy Protein There are three types of soy protein, isolate, concentrate and textured.

Soy protein isolate is the most refined and is generally used in meat products to improve texture and quality and contains over 90% protein.

Soy protein concentrate contains about 70% protein and is made from soybean with the water soluble carbohydrates extracted.

Textured soy protein (TSP) is made form soy protein concentrate with added texture and is available as dried flakes or chunks. These can be added to meat or used as a meat replacement and will keep there shape when hydrated. Textured soy protein contains about 70% protein.

It has been proven that soy protein can help prevent many heart problems.

Soy beans, dried soy flakes and chunks. Found in many soy based products such as soy milk. Also available as a supplement.
VITAMINS
A Promotes healthy skin and muscous membranes lining the mouth, nose, digestive system etc. Also essential for normal colour vision and for the cells in the eye that enable us to see in dim light and helps to strengthen the immune system.

Excessive doses of vitamin A can cause liver toxicity (from taking too many supplements); symptons include liver and bone damage; abdominal pain; dry skin; double vision; vomiting; hair loss; headaches. May also cause birth defects. Pregnant women should avoid liver (contains high amounts of vitamin A). Never exceed 9000 micro grams/day (men), 7500 micro grams/day (women).

Liver, meat,eggs,whole milk,cheese,oily fish,butter and margarine.
B1 (Thiamin)

 

Forms a co-enzyme essential for the conversion of carbohydrates into energy; used for the normal functioning of nerves, brain and muscles. Wholemeal bread and cereal, liver, kidneys, red meat, pulses (beans, lentils and peas)
B2 (Riboflavin) Helps keep skin, eyes, nervous system and muscous membranes healthy. Helps produce steroids and red blood cells and required for the conversion of carbohydrates into energy. Red meat, chicken, liver, kidneys, milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs.
B6 (Pyridoxine) Promotes healthy skin, hair and normal red blood cell formulation. Is used in the metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates and also helps hemoglobin to form (the substance that carries oxygen around the body). Liver, nuts, pulses, eggs, bread, cereal, fish and bananas.
B12 Helps in the manufacture of red blood cells and keeps the nervous system healthy. Used to release energy from the food we eat and is needed in order to produce folic acid.

Also used to prevent some forms of anemia

Meat, salmon, cod, milk, cheese, eggs, yogurt, yeast extract and some fortified breakfast cereals.
Pantothenic acid (B vitamin) Involved in the metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Promotes healthy skin, hair and normal growth as well as helping in the manufacture of hormones and antibodies which fight infection. Also used to release energy from the food we eat. Liver, wholemeal bread, brown rice, nuts, pulses, eggs, vegetables.
Folic acid (B vitamin) Essential in the formation of DNA and necessary for blood cell manufacture. Liver, offal, green vegetables, yeast extract, wheat germ and pulses.
C Assists in the growth and repair of body cells as well as protecting and keeping them healthy.

Helps the body to absorb iron from food.

Fresh fruit (especially citrus), berries and currants, vegetables (especially dark green, leafy vegetables, tomatoes and peppers).
D Controls absorption of calcium from the intestine and helps to regulate calcium metabolism.

Prevents rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults; helps to regulate bone formation.

Sunlight, fresh oils and oily fish, eggs, vitamin-D-fortified cereals, margarine’s and some yogurts.
E Is an antoxidant that protects tissue against free radical damage.

Promotes normal growth and development as well as assisting in the formation of normal red blood cells.

Pure vegetable oils, wheat germ, wholemeal bread and cereals, egg yolk, nuts, sunflower seeds and avocado.
K Needed for blood clotting ( helps the body to heal wounds properly).

Evidence suggests vitamin K is also needed to help build strong bones.

Green leafy vegetables, vegetable oils and cereals. Small amounts can be found in meat (pork) and dairy foods (cheese).
MINERALS
Calcium Important for bone and teeth structure; makes sure the blood clots normally; acts to transmit nerve impulses; regulates muscle contraction, including the heartbeat. Milk, cheese, yogurt, soft bones of small fish (such as sardines and pilchards), seafood, green leafy vegetables, fortified white flour and bread, pulses.
Sodium Helps to control body fluid balance. Also involved in muscle and nerve functions as well as helping the body to digest the food we eat. Table salt, tinned vegetables, fish, meat, ready made sauces and meals, processed meats, bread and cheese.
Potassium Works with sodium to help control fluid balance and muscle and nerve functions.

May also lower blood pressure.

Vegetables, fruit and fruit juices, unprocessed cereals, nuts and seeds, beef, chicken,turkey, fish and bread.
Iron Helps to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body. Red meat, liver, offal, fortified breakfast cereals, shellfish, whole grain bread, pasta, pulses and green leafy vegetables.
Zinc Helps to process carbohydrate, fat and protein in the food we eat.

Involved in the formation of new cells and helps the body to heal wounds.

Meat, eggs, whole grain cereals, milk and dairy products.
Magnesium Involved in the formation of new cells; in muscle contraction and nerve functions.

Helps turns the food we eat into energy, and helps to regulate calcium metabolism.

Helps make sure the parathyroid glands work normally. The parathyroid gland produces hormones important for bone health.

Cereals, vegetables, fruit, potatoes, milk.
Phosphorous Assists in bone and teeth formation. Also helps to release energy from the food we eat. Cereals, meat, fish, milk and dairy products, green vegetables.
Selenium Plays an important role in our immune system’s function, in thyroid hormone metabolism and in reproduction.

Part of the body’s antoxidant defence system, preventing damage to cells and tissue.

Brazil nuts, bread, fish, meat and eggs.
WATER Water is the most important nutrient in the body and comprises about three quarters of the human mass.

Helps in the process of getting energy from the food we eat. Assists the body’s nerve and brain functions.

Very important in removing toxins from the body and for hydrating the body, contributing to fitness and fat loss.

Natural sources (tap) or bottled. Also present in some foods.