Components of Food
The food that we eat consists of different nutrients or
components. Every time you bite into a juicy apple, a
pastry, or any other foodstuff, one or more of these
components enter your body. There are six main
components present in food:
carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals , and
fibres. These components fulfill different needs of the
Just like a fuel makes a car run, carbohydrates provide
energy to your body, which keeps it going throughout
There are two major types of carbohydrates in food:
sugar and starch.
Sugar is also called simple
E.g. Fruits, honey, and table
Starch is also called
Plants store energy in the
form of starch.
When we eat plant
starch, our digestive system
breaks down into glucose.
Fats too provide us energy.
They are of two types: saturated and unsaturated.
Saturated Fats are normally solid at room temperature .
Unsaturated Fats are mostly liquid at room temperature.
E.g. Vegetable Oil
Though fats are essential for our body, eating too
much fats can be harmful. Excess body fat leads to a
condition called obesity, which is harmful to our
Junk foods are considered harmful due to their high
fat or sugar content and poor nutritional value.
Proteins are needed by our body for muscle-building
and repairing worn-out tissues. Our muscles, organs and
even blood are made up of mostly proteins!
Proteins in our diet come from both animals and plants
sources. Meat, fish, eggs and milk are animal sources of
proteins. Pulses, soya beans, grams, and nuts are some
plant sources of proteins.
Vitamins are needed for the normal functioning of our
body. They help in keeping our eyes, bones, teeth and
gums healthy. Some vitamins can be produced by our
body, but most have to be supplied through food.
There 13 vitamins, each of which has a specific function
in our body. Vitamins are of two types: fat-soluble and
Fat –Soluble Vitamins
Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat –soluble vitamins. These
are stored in the fat tissues of our body and are only
used when the body needs them. Our body prepares
vitamin D in the presence of sunlight.
Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12 and folic acid (together
known as vitamin B complex) and vitamin C are watersoluble vitamins. Since water-soluble vitamins are not
stored in the body, these need to be regularly supplied
Lack of vitamins in the body can cause
Minerals perform important functions such as formation
of bones, teeth, and blood cells and maintaining a
Macrominerals (macro means large) are needed by the
body in larger amounts as compared to trace minerals.
Calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium are
examples of Macrominerals.
Traceminerals are needed by the
body in very small amounts. Iron,
zinc, copper, and iodine are examples
of trace minerals.
The fibres that we eat are known as dietary fibres or
roughage. Fibres come from plants. Interestingly, dietary
fibres do not provide any nutrient to our body and
cannot be digested by our body. Yet, they form an
important part of our diet. Fibres add bulk to our food.
Our intestine uses fibres to help solid wastes pass out of
Fibres are of two types: soluble
Soluble fibres are soluble in water. Soluble
fibres help in blood circulation. Apple,
strawberry, peach, and rice are rich in soluble
Insoluble fibres are insoluble in water.
Lack of insoluble fibres in the diet causes the
stool to become hard and difficult to pass. This
condition is called constipation.
Water is needed by our body for good health. Almost
70% of our weight is water.
Water is needed by our body for several reasons.
Water helps to transport substances inside our body.
Water helps our body to absorb nutrients from food.
It helps to regulate our body temperature.
It is needed for various chemical reactions that take
place inside our body during digestion, excretion, etc.
Our body loses a lot of water as sweat and urine. Some
water also goes out of the body during respiration.
Thus, we need to replenish the water or else it can lead
to a condition called dehydration.
Though we also get water from the food we eat, yet one
should try and drink at lest 8-10 glasses of water every
day. Milk, fruits, vegetables, and juices are good sources