5 Characteristics of Nutrient

A nutrient is any element or chemical compound necessary for the metabolism of a living organism and makes up food. Nutrients are essential for life and are made up of chemical elements.


Each food has nutrients that are important for our body’s metabolism. They are divided into macronutrients and micronutrients.


Macronutrients are the nutrients most necessary for the body, which is why they must be included in greater quantities in our daily diet.


Micronutrients are found in a smaller proportion than macronutrients, however they also play an important role in the functioning of our body’s metabolism.

Examples of nutrients

  • Proteins: fish, chicken, red meat, eggs, milk and derivatives (cheese, yogurt), beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, brown rice.
  • Carbohydrates: bread, cereals, rice and pasta.
  • Lipids: foods of animal origin that should be consumed: soy, olive oil, oil (sunflower, cinnamon, corn, soy, etc.), vegetable margarine, cashew, peanuts, almonds, walnuts, hazelnut, coconut, avocado . Foods of animal origin that should be avoided: butter, heavy cream, cream, bacon, fat and bacon (rich in cholesterol).
  • Fats: foods of plant origin have little fat.
  • Saturated fats: foods of plant origin are low in saturated fat. Foods of animal origin have a lot of saturated fat, especially aged cheese, bacon, bacon and sausages.
  • Vitamins: A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, D, E, K, folic acid, niacin, pantothenic and biotin.
  • Minerals: calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, chlorine, magnesium (macrominerals), iron, zinc, copper, iodine, chromium, fluorine, selenium, manganese and molybdenum (microminerals). Each of these minerals has a specific function, being found in one or more foods. They are present in vegetables, foods of animal origin and cereals, however the highest concentration is in whole foods.
  • Fibers: fruits with peel and skin (pear, apple, orange, mango, plum), vegetables, legumes and cereals.

Types of nutrients

Nutrients are classified into the following groups: energy nutrients, regulators, builders and extra energy nutrients:

  • Energy nutrients supply energy for our body.
  • Regulators have the function of regulating the functioning of the organism.
  • Builders have various functions, such as tissue repair and cell renewal.
  • Extra energy should be consumed in smaller quantities, as they have few nutrients and many calories.

Energy nutrients

In order for us to walk, run and even think we need a lot of energy. Therefore, energy foods are essential for those who need to have energy to carry out the activities of daily life such as studying, working and playing.

Due to the importance, energy nutrients composed of carbohydrates are essential, so it is not advisable to exclude energy foods from your daily diet.


Pastas, whole wheat bread, rice, cereal, tubers and roots (cassava, arracacha, yam, potato, etc.), some sugars such as honey and sugar candy also fall into this category, but should be eaten in moderation.

Regulatory nutrients

The so-called regulatory nutrients include vitamins, mineral salts, fiber and water. Each nutrient has a specific role, but they all have the same function: regulate the proper functioning of the metabolism.


Vitamins: organic compounds present in foods. They are essential for the proper functioning of the metabolism. They can be water-soluble or fat-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins are rich in B complex vitamins and vitamin C; However, fat-soluble ones are rich in vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K.

Mineral salts: present in foods in quite varied quantities, which is why a diversified diet is essential. Mineral salts can be divided into two groups: minerals (calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and sodium) and trace elements (iron, zinc, iodine, selenium, etc.)

Dietary fiber: of plant origin, fibers are not digested by the body, however they perform important functions at the digestive and intestinal level. They help control appetite and satiety, regulate the absorption of nutrients such as glucose and cholesterol, and influence the speed of digestion and gastric emptying.

Dietary fibers are of two types: soluble and insoluble . Soluble fibers are diluted in water (pectins, gums and mucilage) and are present in greater quantities in the pulp of fruits, legumes and legumes.

However, the insoluble ones (cellulose and lignin) are more present in the peels of fruits and legumes, whole cereals and fibrous parts of legumes.

Water: water is one of the main nutrients for the body. This is because it performs various functions such as helping to maintain body temperature and hydrating all cells and tissues, dissolving and transporting nutrients throughout all cells, and transporting toxic waste that is eliminated by the kidney through urine. .

Building nutrients

Foods that contain so-called building nutrients are included in the protein group. They participate in the constitution of enzymes, antibodies and hormones, defend the body from diseases and act in the formation and repair of tissues and contribute to growth.

Some of these foods help in the formation of bones and teeth , muscle contraction and cell renewal, among other functions.

Despite being one level above fruits and vegetables in the food pyramid, building foods (proteins) are important in a healthy and balanced diet. In addition to being rich in protein, these foods contain calcium, iron, zinc and B vitamins. Building foods should be eaten 1 to 3 servings per day.


  • Milk and derivatives (cheese and yogurt)
  • Meats (chicken, red meat, fish, pork)
  • Eggs
  • Legumes (soybeans, chickpeas, beans, walnuts, chestnuts, peanuts, peas, etc.)

Extra energy nutrients

Despite being energy providers, the so-called extra energy nutrients, such as sugars, oils and fats, should be consumed in moderation. That’s because they concentrate few nutrients and a large amount of calories. All foods are important in one way or another in the body’s constitution process.