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A 5-Minute Guide to the 6 Essential Nutrients

Keeping up with what you’re supposed to eat may seem complicated, but there are only six categories of essential nutrients. Those are the substances you need to get from food because your body can’t produce enough of them on its own.

If you want to simplify healthy eating, focus on the six basics. That means protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water.

Find out what you need to know with this quick guide.

Macronutrients:

All your calories come from three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fats. They give you energy, and you need them in ample supplies.

Keep these tips in mind:

    1. Eat enough protein. The main building block for your body cells and tissues is protein. It helps you increase muscle mass and may boost your metabolism. Contrary to popular belief, fruits and vegetables contain protein; some have more than others.

Vegetables with the most protein are broccoli, spinach, asparagus, artichokes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts, typically containing 4–5 grams of protein per cooked cup.

Sweet corn is another food that contains about as much protein as these high-protein vegetables.

Fresh fruits have a lower protein content than vegetables. But some fruits can be a good source of protein; these include guava, cherimoyas, mulberries, blackberries, nectarines, and bananas, which have about 2–4 grams of protein per cup.

    2. Embrace carbohydrates. For short-term energy, your body uses carbohydrates. While low and no-carb diets seem popular, it makes more sense to distinguish between refined and unrefined carbohydrates. Load up on vegetables, fruits, and whole grains while mainly avoiding white flour and sugar products.

    3. Choose healthy fats. Your body needs fats too. They give you long-term energy and help protect your organs.

The following is a list of vegetables ordered from highest to lowest according to grams of fat per cup.

  1. Soybeans: 11.52 grams
  2. Corn: 2.23 grams
  3. Kidney Beans: 1.54 grams
  4. Black Beans: 0.9 grams
  5. Northern Beans: 0.8 grams
  6. Cooked Lentils: 0.8 grams
  7. Cooked Peas: 0.6 grams
  8. Broccoli: 0.5 grams
  9. Unpeeled Zucchini: 0.4 grams
  10. Tomatoes: 0.36 grams
  11. Carrots: 0.31 grams
  12. Cauliflower: 0.3 grams
  13. Red Bell Peppers: 0.3 grams
  14. Kale: 0.3 grams
  15. White Potatoes: 0.21 grams
  16. Butternut Squash: 0.18 grams
  17. Collard and Turnip Greens: 0.17 grams
  18. Pumpkin: 0.17 grams
  19. Spinach: 0.12 grams
  20. Cucumber: 0.12 grams
  21. Cabbage: 0.07 grams

    4. Stay balanced. Current dietary guidelines recommend getting about 45 to 65% of your total daily calories from carbohydrates, 20 to 35% from fat, and 10 to 35% from protein. How much do you need to eat from each group?

Micronutrients:

Vitamins and minerals are the micronutrients that support your body’s functions. You only need them in small amounts, but they’re still vital to your health and wellbeing. You can also read 14 Herbs & Supplements All Women Should Consider For Good Health

The benefit of these strategies:

    1. Understand vitamins and minerals. There are 13 essential vitamins and a wide range of minerals that you need to stay fit. Vitamins help your body use other nutrients and make hormones. Minerals are necessary for your central nervous system and skeleton.

    2. Seek variety. Common signs of vitamin and mineral deficiencies include hair loss and slow healing. Most symptoms can be treated quickly by changing your diet.

    3. Consider supplements. For most adults, food is superior to supplements. However, following your doctor’s recommendations is essential if you’re on a restricted diet.

Water:

There’s a slight difference of opinion when it comes to water. Some experts call it a macronutrient because you need a lot of it. Others say it’s a micronutrient because it doesn’t provide energy directly. You may side with those who put it in a separate category of its own.

Add more water to your diet with these tips:

    1. Adopt new habits. Maybe you have trouble remembering to drink enough water. Try creating triggers like having a glass when you wake up or making a phone call.

    2. Add flavor. If the taste of plain water doesn’t appeal to you, liven it up. Infuse it with fresh basil or a few crushed cranberries.

    3. Chew it. Water from solid foods counts too. Use ingredients like cucumbers, celery, strawberries, cauliflower, and cottage cheese for meals and snacks with high water content.

    4. Avoid dehydration. You may have heard that you can only live about three days without water. Even under less extreme conditions, dehydration can affect your performance. If you feel fatigued or have trouble concentrating, you may need to drink more. You can also read The Surprising Truth About What Happens When You Drink One Percent More Water

Proper nutrition can be simple. Eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and other whole foods is usually all you need to give your body adequate amounts of the six essential nutrients.

If you have medical conditions or other concerns, your doctor or dietician can also help you understand your individual needs.

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About Damon K. Jones (212 Articles)
Damon K. Jones is an Activist, Author, and Publisher of Black Westchester Magazine, a Black-owned and operated newspaper based in Westchester County, New York. Mr. Jones is a Holistic Health Practitioner, First Aid in Mental Health Practioner, Diet, and Nutrition Advisor, and Vegan, Vegetarian Nutrition Life Coach. Mr. Jones is a 31 year Law Enforcement Practioner, New York Representative of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America. Mr. Jones has been a guest commentator on New York radio stations WBLS (107.5 FM), WLIB (1190 am), WRKS (98.7 FM), WBAI (99.5 FM), and Westchester's WVOX (1460 am). Mr. Jones has appeared on local television broadcasts, including Westchester News 12 “News Makers” and Public Television “Winbrook Pride. You can now hear Damon every Wednesday at 830 AM on WFAS 1230 AM, Morning with Bob Marone Show.
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