When food is digested, it breaks down into chemical
substances called nutrients. There are more than 50 known nutrients that keep
the body healthy. Every nutrient is necessary. While each nutrient has a different
job, no nutrient acts alone. Think of nutrients as the "raw materials"
that keep the body alive and healthy. They are responsible for:
- repair and maintenance of body parts, and
- regulation of body functions, such as maintaining
a constant body temperature and circulating fluids throughout the body.
Scientists group nutrients into six major categories:
Most foods contain more than one of these nutrients,
but no one food contains all the nutrients in the amounts necessary for life.
Ten- and 11-year olds have special nutrient needs
because they are just beginning a growth spurt. In particular, they need more:
- Protein for body growth.
- Calcium for bone growth.
- Iron for muscle development and the increased
blood volume in their bodies.
- Build and repair cells
- Fight infection and heal cuts
- Make antibodies, enzymes, and hormones
- Meat, fish, poultry
- Dried peas, beans, nuts
- Eggs, milk, cheese
- Supply energy
- Supply fiber to help food move through
the digestive tract
- Breads, cereals
- Rice, pasta
- Fruits, vegetables
- Dried beans and peas
- Sugar and foods sweetened with it
- Supply concentrated energy
- Carry vitamins throughout the body
- Insulate the body from cold
- Cushion internal organs and bones from
- Butter, margarine, oils
- Nuts and seeds
- Fried foods
- Salad dressings, gravies
- Snack chips, etc.
- Cookies, cakes, pies, etc.
- Carries other nutrients throughout the
- Carries wastes out of the body
- Regulates body temperature
- Keeps skin healthy
- Keeps eyes healthy, especially for night
- Helps fight infection
- Deep yellow fruits and vegetables (carrots,
sweet potatoes, apricots, peaches, pumpkin, cantaloupe)
- Dark green, leafy vegetables (kale, spinach,
- Liver, egg yolk
- Milk, cheese, butter
- Helps heal cuts
- Prevents infection
- Helps the body use iron
- Maintains healthy body tissue
- Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits,
- Other fruits (kiwis, strawberries)
- Some vegetables (green peppers, broccoli,
cabbage, tomatoes, spinach, potatoes)
- Provides strength and structure for bones
- Keeps nerves and muscles healthy
- Milk, cheese, yogurt
- Dark green leafy vegetables (kale, broccoli,
- Salmon with bones
- Helps blood carry oxygen
- Prevents anemia (and the fatigue that
- Helps fight infection
- Lean meat, liver, oysters
- Dried peas and beans
- Fortified grain products
- Some vegetables (tomatoes, spinach)
- Some dried fruits (prunes, raisins, apricots)
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