A good understanding of nutrition is essential, so you are able to understand what you are eating. Understanding begins by getting stuck into reading those nutrition tables on the sides of those packets of food. But what do the terms actually mean? Here’s a rundown of some terms you are likely to come across in the nutrition world. Also at the bottom of this page you will find some useful tools which can be used to determine your daily requirements for the nutritional items discussed.


This is the amount of energy available through digestion to the body from sources of fats, proteins and carbohydrates in the food. If the amount of energy you consume is greater then the amount you burn you will put weight on. If the opposite you will lose weight. Units of measurement are calories and kilojoules. One Calorie is approximately equal to 4.1868 kilojoules.


Proteins are the building blocks of all muscles. They are made up of an array of amino acids which play vital roles in providing mechanical immune protection, transmission of nerve impulses, transport oxygen, and controlling growth. It is important to get your recommended daily dosage as proteins really are vital to wellbeing. Sources include: chicken, beef, fish, port, eggs, dairy, beans and nuts.


Carbohydrates assist in storage and transportation of energy and are a major source of fuel for the human body. They are either classified as simple or complex. Simple carbohydrates are fast releasing energy sources and are excellent whilst exercising to give your body that bit of extra energy straight away. They come in the form of sugars, sources include: fruits, juices, milk, honey, molasses and sugar.

Complex carbohydrates take longer to break down and are usually packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals. They are preferred over simple carbohydrates for these nutritional reasons. sources: breads, vegetables, cereals, pasta and legumes. (whole meal carbohydrates are preferred over  processed white ones)


Sugars are low in nutrients and convert to fat readily if not burnt. Carbohydrates can also convert to fat if not used, but sugar is more prone to do this. Sugars should be minimised in your diet as excessive consumption can lead to problems such as diabetes.


There are two types of fats: good ones and bad ones.

bad ones:

Saturated fats which raise cholesterol levels; sources: meat, dairy, eggs and seafood.

Trans fats which have been invented by scientists for food production processes and increase shelf life of foods such as French fries. These fats are amongst the worst and can lead to many health disorders later in life. Sources: packaged foods from fast food chains, microwavable foods (eg popcorn) and margarine.

good fats:

Monosaturated fats lower cholesterol and are required by they body. sources: nuts, olive oils, canola oils.

Polyunsaturated fats also lower cholesterol and are required by they body. sources: Salmon, fish oil, soy, corn, safflower, sunflower oils and omega 3.

Vitamin A

Essential for good eyesight, healthy hair/skin and is an antioxidant vitamin. It can help you free radicals in the body, reducing their damaging effects on cells. sources: all red, yellow and green vegetables. Fruits with rich colours such as mango, rock melon, papaya and dried apricots.

B vitamins

A group of eight water soluble vitamins that work in the body with each having a different but important role, such as growth and development of nervous system. Sources: lamb liver, seaweed, turkey, chicken, whole grains, oats, sunflower seeds,  nuts, eggs, shitake, mushrooms, oily fish, fortified breakfast cereals, baby sweet corns, sprouts, oranges, brown rice’s and leafy green vegetables. Note: B vitamins are lost if food is stored for two long or cooked excessively.

Vitamin C

Essential for many aspects of good health such as maintenance of red blood cells and fighting colds. This antioxidant helps keep your immune system strong and is good for the skin. Sources: all types of fruits, capsicum, chilies, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage and lettuce.

Vitamin D

Assists in bone growth and mineral balance in the body. 30 min a day of sunlight allows your skin to make vitamin D. sources: eggs, cod liver oil, salmon, herring, trout, tuna and mackerel

Vitamin E

powerful antioxidant helps to slow the aging process, prevents cell membranes from damage, prevents clogging of arteries and thins blood. Sources: wheat germ, sunflower seeds, nuts, avocado, tomatoes, sweet potato, spinach and oily fish eg salmon, tuna, sardines.


This powerful antioxidant is made from non-essential amino acids after consuming proteins. The body would collapse from uncontrolled oxidation without it. Sources: proteins.

Coenzyme Q10

Another antioxidant which helps convert food to energy, promotes a strong heart, and assists in maintaining a healthy immune system. sources: fish, meat, vegetables, oils, wheat germ, rice bran, spinach and broccoli.


Needed for your bones to prevent osteoporosis, and is needed for proper functioning of muscles and nerves. Sources: dairy products, green leafy vegetables, tofu, sardines, salmon, nuts, whole grains, sesame seeds, soya beans, dried figs, cabbage, broccoli and seaweed.


helps control blood glucose levels and regulated metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. sources: chicken, oysters, eggs, liver, beef, capsicum, bananas, apples, spinach, molasses.


Carries oxygen in the blood to cells throughout the body. Also assists in healing process. Sources: seaweed, sesame and pepitas, nuts, beans, lentils, spinach, lean red meat, dried peaches and apricots, sliver beet, broccoli, leafy greens, eggs, brown rice, barley and couscous.


essential for the metabolism of glucose and muscle and nerve functioning. Sources: whole grains, nuts, seeds and green vegetables.


Protects the heart against disease, protects against cancers and aging. Sources: seafood (squid, tuna, sardines, salmon, cod, prawns, swordfish, mussels), lean pork, wholegrain, seeds, brazil nuts, walnuts, raisins, mushrooms and lentils.


Essential for normal growth, development, fertility, healthy skin, healthy immune system, and healing. Sources: meats, crabs, oysters, dairy products, wholegrain, pine nuts, cashews, poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds, cocoa powdered, seaweed.

Daily Nutritional Requirements

You don’t know what your daily requirements are for proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. Do not worry if you visit nutritional data and enter in your age, sex, height and weight it will estimate your daily requirements. This is a great tool to get started and to understand what your body really needs.

Nutritional Database

Need to breakdown foods to help you achieve a balanced diet, whilst ensuring your daily nutritional requirements are meet. Below is a complete database you can search. It includes the most comprehensive list of foods on the internet and breaks down foods into components you will need. Also gives a complete wrap on other food properties and is a great tool to plan your diet.

Also Read : Tips for a healthy Lifestyle


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