Nutritious Food: What it Is (and Is Not)

Nutritious food generally refers to food that provides essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial components necessary for maintaining good health and preventing deficiencies. A nutrient is a substance that provides nourishment and supports the growth, repair, and maintenance of the body. Nutritious food supports growth, development, and overall well-being.

Here are some key characteristics of nutritious food:

1. Adequate Macronutrients: Nutritious food contains carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. These essentials ensure the body receives the necessary energy to function properly.

2. Adequate Micronutrients: Nutritious food is rich in essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, vitamin D, iron, calcium, zinc, etc. These micronutrients are vital for various bodily functions and help prevent nutrient deficiencies.

3. Whole and Unprocessed: Nutritious food often includes whole and minimally processed ingredients. Whole fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats are examples of nutritious whole foods. These foods tend to retain more nutrients and fiber compared to heavily processed alternatives.

4. Low in Added Sugars and Unhealthy Fats: Nutritious food is generally low in added sugars and unhealthy fats like trans fats and saturated fats. Excess consumption of these can lead to various health issues such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

5. Variety: A nutritious diet consists of a wide range of food types to ensure the intake of different nutrients. A varied diet helps prevent nutrient deficiencies and provides a diverse array of micronutrients.

On the other hand, nutritious food is not:

1. Highly Processed: Highly processed foods, such as sugary snacks, fast food, and sweetened beverages, are often nutrient-poor. These foods are typically high in added sugars, unhealthy fats and food additives while being low in essential nutrients and healthy fiber.

2. Nutritionally Imbalanced: Food lacking a balance of necessary macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals can be considered non-nutritious. For example, diets that consist primarily of only one macronutrient or a few food groups may damage health over time.

The evidence supporting the importance of nutritious food comes from various scientific studies. Research consistently shows that nutrient deficiencies can lead to various health issues, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, nutrient-related disorders, compromised immune function, and impaired physical and cognitive development in children. On the other hand, a properly balanced and nutritious diet has been associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases, improved weight management, increased energy levels, and enhanced overall well-being.

Nancy Wilmaft

Nancy Wilmaft is an eclectic researcher with degrees in political science and psychology. She started writing for News i8 in 2023.

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