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Eating a variety of healthy foods each day provides your body with essential nutrients needed for good health. Foods provide protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins and minerals that work together to keep our bodies healthy and strong. Learn more about nutrients in this section.
Eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains is an excellent source of antioxidants. Antioxidants protect your body from the damage of harmful molecules called free radicals. This helps to prevent chronic diseases. In this section, learn more about antioxidants:
Fibre is an important part of a healthy diet. It is a non-digestible nutrient. Fibre is found in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and legumes such as beans, peas and lentils. Eating fibre regularly can help prevent and manage constipation, and lower cholesterol levels.
Sugar is a type of carbohydrate found naturally in foods like fruits, vegetables and milk. It is also added to foods for taste, texture and colour. Some packaged foods and drinks contain a lot of added sugar. Use the nutrition facts table and list of ingredients on the food label to find out how much sugar is in a food. The food label will also tell you what types of sugar are in a product.
Fats and Oils
Dietary fat is essential for good health. Some foods with healthy, unsaturated fats include fatty fish, nuts and seeds and avocado. Choosing foods with healthy fats instead of foods with large amounts of saturated fat can lower the risk of heart disease.
Protein helps you maintain and build body tissues like muscle, skin, and nails. It is a vital nutrient that is found in every part of your body. Choose foods rich in protein every day, especially foods that come from plants like beans, peas and lentils.
Vitamins and Minerals
Your body thrives when it receives the proper amount of vitamins and minerals. Eating a balanced and varied diet may provide enough of these vitamins and minerals. Some people may need to use supplements to meet their needs, including people 50 years of age and over, women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, and some vegetarians.
Potassium is found in all body tissues and is needed for normal cell function. Your body needs potassium to help your muscles contract and maintain a normal blood pressure. People with chronic kidney disease may need to restrict the amount of potassium in their diet.
Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium keeps your bones and muscles—including your heart—healthy and strong. Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. People who do not get enough calcium and vitamin D throughout life have an increased chance of having thin and brittle bones (osteoporosis) in their later years. Getting enough calcium protects against bone breaks as you get older.
Iron is a mineral that your body uses to make hemoglobin. Without enough iron, your body will not have enough hemoglobin to carry oxygen in your blood, and you may develop iron deficiency anemia.
Vitamin B12 and Vitamin K
Vitamin B12 and vitamin K are important vitamins for everyday health. Vitamin K helps your blood to clot when you are bleeding and helps to build strong bones. Your body needs vitamin B12 to help keep your nerve and red blood cells healthy and to make DNA, the genetic material in cells.
Last Updated: June 2021