What we eat has more impact on our wellbeing than perhaps anything else in our day-to-day lives. Covering the importance of a healthy balanced diet, vitamins, minerals, wholegrains and more, our nutrition section will help you with information and advice on making the right choices for you and your family.
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Vitamins and minerals are involved in everything that takes place in the body, from building strong bones to helping regulate the uptake of oxygen in your blood. Although they don’t directly supply your body with energy, they are involved in many processes that produce energy as an end result.
In a healthy adult, vitamins are only needed in small amounts and for that reason are often referred to as ‘micronutrients’.
Carbohydrates are your body’s main ‘raw energy’ source, fuelling your every movement from breathing in and out to running for your bus in the morning.
Nutrition experts agree that a carbohydrate-rich diet will help keep you going for longer between meals and help you fight fatigue throughout the day. How? Because carbohydrate foods contain fibre, they make you feel fuller and less prone to hunger pangs during the day.
Your body can’t store or produce its own carbohydrate in any great quantity, however, so it’s essential you eat carbohydrate every day as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
Carbohydrates and weight management
Because of the publicity surrounding low carbohydrate diets in recent years, something of a misconception has arisen that carbohydrates are fattening. In actual fact, they contain just less than half the calories of fat and more often than not, it’s the fatty spreads and rich sauces people have with their bread, potatoes, rice or pasta that loads them up with calories.
What’s more, current scientific evidence shows that people who eat a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet that’s rich in fruit and vegetables are less likely to be overweight or obese.
Carbohydrate foods can be unrefined or refined.
Good sources of carbohydrates include:
All types of breakfast cereals
All types of bread, pasta, rice and potatoes
Peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas
Fruit - fresh, dried or canned
Some vegetables – parsnips, sweetcorn, beetroot
Jam, honey and other preserves
B-group vitamins and vitamin C are water-soluble. That means they cannot be stored in the body so you must have a regular supply on a day-to-day basis.
They can be quite easily destroyed during cooking and prolonged storage, so whenever you can, eat vegetables that are as fresh as possible, leave any edible skins on (vitamins are at their highest concentration just beneath the skin), steam or cook them in a small amount of water for a couple of minutes only and serve them as soon as possible after cooking.
Fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K can be stored for some time by the body, so getting a fresh supply every day is not so essential.
Minerals are present in almost all foods and drinks, including water. They form an essential part of many of the body’s cells. Not just in hard structures like bone, teeth and nails, but in other ‘soft’ organs and tissues too.
They play many different roles, many of them crucial to life itself, including the regulation of fluid and muscle contraction.
Because of the many different jobs they do around the body, some minerals - calcium and potassium for instance - are needed in greater amounts than others, such as iron, selenium and zinc.