Students' Zone


Which nutrients are in which foods & how often should I eat them?

Carbohydrate: eat at every meal
Fruit and vegetables: eat at every meal to get to at least 5 portions a day
Protein sources: a little every day
Fats: a little every day
Sugar: avoid processed sugar
Salt: 6g a day
Fibre: every day

Carbohydrates: eat at every meal

Carbohydrates provide energy, and starchy foods are the best form of carbohydrate to eat e.g. bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, oats, breakfast cereals and couscous. Starchy foods, also called complex carbohydrates, are good sources of energy as they also contain a range of other nutrients such as protein, calcium, iron, B vitamins and fibre. They are an important part of our diet and should be eaten at every meal so that they make up a third of our diet. Most people don't eat enough starchy food. Good carbohydrates to add to your diet are the ones that are rich in fibre, such as wholegrain granary bread, brown rice, oats and pasta.

Fruit and vegetables: eat at every meal to reach at least five portions a day

Fruit and vegetables provide the body with vitamins, minerals, fibre and carbohydrates, usually in the form of simple sugars. It is important for your body to get vitamins from food rather than a tablet because the raw food gives you other nutrients that help you absorb the vitamins.

You probably know you should eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables each day but do you know what a portion is? A portion is approximately the amount of the fruit or vegetable that, if squashed to be a solid round ball, would be about the size of your fist. An adult portion is about 80g.

One portion = 80g
150ml fruit juice + 1tbsp dried fruit + 3 tbsp baked beans + 1 banana + 3 tbsp carrots = 5 portions

Each day one portion can come from a fruit juice, but juice only counts as one portion a day no matter how much you drink. Some smoothies may count as more than one portion if they contain all of the edible fruit and vegetable pulp. Each day one portion, but no more, can come from dried fruit. One portion can come from beans and pulses but the other portions must come from whole fresh, frozen, or canned fruit or vegetables. People who eat a lot of fruit and veg have a less chance of developing heart disease and a variety of cancers.

Remember potatoes don't count as a vegetable because they're a starchy carbohydrate.

Protein sources: a little every day

Meat, fish, eggs, nuts and pulses are all sources of protein. The body needs protein to grow and repair itself. Some protein should be eaten everyday as the body can not store protein. These foods also provide B vitamins, which help release the energy from food so it is available for the body to use. One of the B vitamins, B12, is found in meat, fish, milk and eggs, but not plants so vegans who do not eat eggs or milk should take a supplement. B12 is important for the brain and nervous system to function and it is used in making blood.

Protein-rich foods also contain minerals such as:
• iron, which is needed for blood to carry oxygen around the body
• zinc, which helps with wound healing
• magnesium, which helps the body use energy.

Next: Meat, Liver, Fish, Eggs, Pulses, Nuts, Dairy, Fats, Sugar, Salt, Fibre