Nutrients help promote growth, provide energy and regulate body functions. They work as building blocks for your body and help contribute to good health. The University of Maryland Medical Center says that the body requires more than 45 nutrients to function. Many of the major nutrients your body depends on come from the foods you eat because your body can’t produce them all. The major nutrients found in foods include carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. Eating nutrient-rich foods will help nourish your body and assist you in obtaining the nutrients you need.
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Among the most nutritious and versatile foods, legumes offer many benefits to your body. Legumes include such foods as lentils, peas and beans. This class of vegetable grows from plants with pods that split and produce fleshy seeds. Legumes contain rich sources of nutrients, including low-glycemic index carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, folate, magnesium, potassium, fiber, flavonoids and phytosterols, among other essential nutrients. The Linus Pauling Institute says that legumes also provide a nutrient-dense source of protein that can substitute for dietary animal proteins, which often contain high saturated fats.
Whole grains provide many of the nutrients your body needs. Examples of whole grains include oatmeal, corn, brown rice, teff and hulled barley. They contain naturally occurring nutrients and essential parts of grain seeds. Whole grains are a good source of B vitamins, dietary fiber, iron, magnesium and selenium. Many studies have shown that eating whole grains instead of refined grains lowers the risk of disease. The Harvard School of Public Health says that whole grains can help with weight management and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. With many varieties to satisfy individual preferences, whole grains are both nutrient-rich and delicious.
Often called a super-fruit for their nutritional benefits, berries are a powerhouse of antioxidants and nutrients. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that berries have origins in both Europe and the U.S. These bright and vibrant colored fruits come in many varieties and textures. Berry varieties include currants, acai berries, raspberries, blueberries, wild blueberries and strawberries. They have an abundance of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and phytochemicals, which help protect against disease. Some of the richest nutrients found in berries include vitamin C, potassium and fiber. Most berry varieties have low calories and range from tart to sweet in flavor.