Protein, carbohydrates and fats are needed for a good diet. Along with water and fat, our bodies contain much protein. Protein is most important to a healthy body. Enzymes are made of protein. They help to keep the body working. Antibodies in the blood stream are also made of protein. They fight off disease. The body also needs protein to build muscle. The muscles in turn hold the bone structure together. Muscles provide the strength to move and work. It’s a good thing that most of us get enough protein.
But where is protein found? Meat, poultry, fish, milk, cheese and eggs give us good amounts of it. Bread and cereal are also important sources. Vegetables, like soybeans, chickpeas, dry beans and peanuts, are also good sources of protein. You do not have to load up on meat, poultry or eggs to get enough protein in your diet. Eating cereal or vegetable foods with milk, cheese or other animal protein can give you enough protein in your diet. For example, eat cereal with milk, rice with fish, or simply drink a glass of milk during a meal. Together, these foods provide the high quality protein the body needs.
Carbohydrates are the biggest source of energy. This group is made up of starches and sugars. Carbohydrates are mostly found in cereal grains, fruits, vegetables, and sugar. Such foods as wheat, oats, corn and rice provide starch. So, too, do potatoes, sweet potatoes and vegetables like peas, dry beans, peanuts and soybeans. Most other vegetables have smaller amounts of carbohydrates. In vegetables, the carbohydrates are usually in the form of starch. In fruits, they show up as sugar. Of course, candies, jams and syrups are mostly sugar.
Fats give us energy. They add flavor and variety to foods. They make meals more satisfying. Fats carry vitamins A, D, E and K. Fats are also an important part of the cells which make up the body’s tissues. Our body fat protects our important organs by surrounding them with a cushion. Fats are found in butter, margarine, shortening, salad oils, and cream. Most cheeses, mayonnaise, salad dressing, nuts and bacon also have a good deal of fat.
A good and balanced diet will use foods from all three of the above groups. In the end, eating right pays off in a healthier body. You’ll not only look better, but you will also feel better.