Protein, Carbs, and Fats: What You Need to Know

All food contains nutrients your body can use to function. Understanding these nutrients can help you plan a healthier diet.

Proteins—Proteins are often called the body’s building blocks. They are used to build and repair tissues and help you fight infection. Your body uses extra protein for energy. The protein foods group includes seafood, lean meat and poultry, dairy, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds.

Carbohydrates—Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. The fruit, vegetables, dairy, and grain food groups all contain carbohydrates. When making a healthy meal, try to get most of your carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, fat-free and low-fat dairy, and whole grains rather than added sugars or refined grains.

Fats—Fats give you energy, and they help the body absorb certain vitamins. Many foods naturally contain fats, including dairy products; meats, poultry, seafood, and eggs; and seeds, nuts, avocados, and coconuts. Saturated and trans fats can be bad for your health. Fats that contain mostly trans fats and saturated fats are solid at room temperature. Limit your intake of saturated fats to less than 10 percent of your calories each day and keep trans fat intake as low as possible.

Learn more about protein, carbohydrates, and fats and get tips on how to incorporate more healthy foods into your diet.

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