Food and nutrients

The food groups

Food can be classified according to its nutritive content.

All the foodstuffs in the same group share the same principal nutrient and fulfil the same nutritional need.

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The food groups

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NUTRIENTS

Food is made up of nutritional elements called nutrients. There is a way of classifying food according to its nutrients. In other words, foodstuffs belonging to the same food group share a principal nutrient and serve the same nutritional need. There are seven food groups in total and each group is represented by a colour here.

THE FOOD GROUPS

The ‘drinks group’ of course includes water, but also tea, coffee and herbal teas.

However, it does not include sugary drinks such as cordials and soft drinks or alcoholic drinks. These drinks are part of the ‘sugary products group’, alongside sugar, jam, chocolate and cakes.

Milk is also not included under ‘drinks’ as it is comes under ‘dairy products’.

This group also includes cheese. Dairy products are particularly rich in minerals.

There is another type of drink, which belongs to a different group: fruit juice. Fruit juices belong under 'fruit and vegetables'.

Unsurprisingly, this group includes fruit and vegetables, but not all fruit and vegetables. For example, avocados and coconuts are not included as they are rich in fat. This means they belong to the ‘fats group’.

The ‘fats group’ includes oil and butter as well as fatty foods such as cream, and oleaginous fruit. Oleaginous food covers plants, fruit and cereal grains which are rich in oil.

What about pulses such as lentils and chickpeas? Do you think they belong under the ‘fruit and vegetables group’? Well, no! Pulses are rich in carbohydrates so they belong under ‘cereals’.

This group is an excellent source of energy and also includes cereal products such as pasta and bread.

Remember that pulses contain protein as well as carbohydrates. This is why they are sometimes included in the ‘meat group’.

However, vegetable and leguminous proteins have a lower nutritional value than animal protein. Meat, fish and eggs provide ‘complete’ proteins, which means they are composed of all of the essential amino acids the body needs; this is not true in the case of pulses, although it is easy to supplement the missing proteins.

All of these food groups are found in NUTRIX. We need to eat more food in some groups than in others. This is one of the requirements of a balanced diet, which we will look at later.

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