7 Essential Food Groups: What You Need to Know

Carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, macronutrients, and micronutrients are all essential components of a healthy diet.


are an important source of energy for our body and come mainly from cereals, such as rice and noodles. Fruits, root vegetables, dried beans, and dairy products also contain carbohydrates.


can be found in foods such as meat, fish, seafood, dairy products, nuts, seeds, and oils.

They serve as an energy source and help to prevent heat loss in cold climates. They also protect organs from shock and form part of the cells of our body.


are essential for maintaining healthy skin and hair, building bones, and releasing and using energy from food. They can be classified into water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins.

Minerals are a group of essential nutrients that regulate many body functions such as fluid balance, muscle contraction, and the transmission of nerve impulses.

Dietary fiber

is the indigestible part found in plants that helps to stabilize blood sugar levels, promote gastrointestinal health, and prevent constipation. It can be classified into soluble and insoluble fiber. These classes of nutrients can be further divided into macronutrients or nutrients that are needed in large quantities and micronutrients or nutrients that are needed in small quantities.

Macronutrients include carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fiber, and water while micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. Carbohydrate molecules are made up of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen atoms. Monosaccharides such as glucose, fructose, and galactose are types of carbohydrates while an example of a complex carbohydrate is starch. Fats are made up of the same types of atoms as carbohydrates and are composed of triglycerides or fatty acid monomers that bind to glycerol.

Protein molecules are made up of nitrogen atoms plus carbon, oxygen and hydrogen. These nitrogen monomers are essential amino acids needed by the body for various metabolic functions. Antioxidants and phytochemicals are other micronutrients that are essential to the body. Carbohydrates can be classified according to the number of monomeric units they contain or the number of sugar units they have.

They can be monosaccharides, disaccharides or polysaccharides with monosaccharides having one sugar unit, disaccharides having two sugar units, and polysaccharides having three or more sugar units. Carbohydrates make up most foods such as bread, noodles, rice, and other grain-containing products. Simple carbohydrates are absorbed into the blood very quickly causing blood sugar levels to rise abnormally which leads to heart and vascular diseases. You should keep in mind that there are many foods that are composed of simple sugars such as sugar-based juice.

Many animal body structures are composed of proteins such as hair, skin, and muscles which each protein molecule being made up of thousands of amino acids. Your body needs these amino acids to produce new proteins or retain existing proteins and to replace damaged proteins or to maintain protein mass. Amino acids that the body doesn't need are discarded when you urinate. All animals require certain proteins that cannot be produced by their own bodies which are called essential proteins while those that an animal can produce internally are called non-essential proteins.

There are about twenty types of amino acids that can be found in the human body with about ten being essential since they cannot be produced by your own body so they must be obtained through your diet. Your diet should have a sufficient amount of protein especially the protein that is essential when your child is developing and maturing when you are pregnant breastfeeding or when you are injured. Complete protein sources are those with all the essential amino acids while an incomplete protein source lacks one or more of the essential amino acids so to obtain a complete protein source one or more incomplete protein sources can be combined such as rice and beans. Other sources of protein include tofu meat eggs soy and soy products legumes cereals and dairy products such as cheese and milk.

There are some amino acids that can be converted to glucose and used for energy which is known as gluconeogenesis while those amino acids that remain after conversion are discarded by the body. The conversion or desaturation of DGLA to AA is managed by the enzyme delta-5 desaturase which is controlled by hormones called insulin and glucagon with insulin regulating the increase while glucagon regulates the decrease. The amount of carbohydrates consumed together with the amount of amino acids in the system influence the processes of insulin glucagon and other hormones which means that the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 will have serious effects on the health of a human being particularly influencing the immune system inflammation and mitosis or cell division. To obtain essential fatty acids vegetables seeds nuts and marine oils must be consumed with the best sources being linseed oils fish soy and soy products pumpkin seeds sunflower seeds and walnuts.

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that is not fully absorbed by humans producing four calories or kilocalories per gram when metabolized though this may be lower than estimated because not everything is absorbed by the body.