Here are the basics:
We need all three macronutrients – carbohydrate, protein and fat – for optimum health.
Carbohydrates are the preferred fuel for most cells in the body. Your main energy source, carbs are important for fueling the body and brain, protecting our muscles and feeding the bacteria in the gut. Carbohydrate-rich foods include starchy vegetables (potatoes, sweet potato, taro); breads; pasta; rice and other grains and legumes and dairy. Healthier carbohydrates are in whole, unprocessed versions of these foods: veges and fruit, whole grains rather than white, processed ones.
Proteins are important “building blocks” for our bodies. Proteins are in every one of our cells, where they’re used to build and repair tissues; to make enzymes and hormones, and to build muscle, bone, cartilage, skin and blood. Protein-rich foods include meat, chicken and fish; tofu; eggs; dairy products, nuts, beans and other legumes. Healthier protein foods are the above foods in their most whole, natural forms.
Fats are also necessary for every cell in our bodies. They help us absorb some vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K) and help regulate hormones. Fats provide energy and build energy reserves, and protect and insulate our organs. Fats are found in meat, fish, chicken and dairy; in oils; spreads; nuts and seeds. Healthier fats are olive, avocado and seed oils, nuts, seeds and some dairy.
We also need some micronutrients from our food. The World Health Organisation calls micronutrients “magic wands that enable the body to produce enzymes, hormones and other substances essential for proper growth and development.”