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Carbohydrates play a major role in supplying energy to the body and maintaining normal blood glucose levels. Whole grains and cereals provide the highest concentration of carbohydrates, which are also present in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. Carbohydrates appear in forms of natural sugars, starches, and cellulose. Cellulose is a fiber important to regular bowel movements and may reduce our risk of chronic diseases, such as Heart disease and colon cancer. Eating highly processed carbohydrates raises blood sugar levels.

Protein is an essential nutrient found primarily in foods of animal origin and animal byproducts, including meats, poultry, and dairy products. Fish is also a protein resource. Even plant foods, when eaten in certain combinations, can provide complete and needed protein. For example, eating beans and cornmeal or rice and legumes together can provide a low-fat source of protein. The word protein is derived from a Greek word meaning "of prime importance." Proteins are essential to the making of muscle, normal immune response, and enzyme actions in the body. Every cell in the body requires protein for normal function. Eat at least 8 grams of protein per 20 pounds of body weight.

Fats, or lipids, are vital nutrients. Every cell in the body is surrounded by a cell wall made of lipids. Lipids also maintain the structure and support of our organs. Consequently, eating some dietary fat each day is essential to health, but be sure to eat less than 30 percent fat in your diet. Fat is obtained from many food sources, including meats, dairy products, and plant products, such as nuts, seeds, coconut, and avocado.

Water is the major component of cells. Without it the human body cannot survive for more than a few days. Water can be consumed in the form of drinking water, beverages, soups, or eating fruits and vegetables.

Fiber is also essential. Increase your fiber content. Adults should eat 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day. Replace white rice, bread, and pasta with brown rice and whole grain products and whole grain cereals. Trade beans for meat in chili and soups 2 to 3 times per week. Eat 2 to 4 servings of fruits and 5 or more servings of vegetables each day. Children over age 2 should consume an amount of fiber equal to or greater than their age plus 5 grams per day.

Taken from University of Iowa: Hospitals and Clinics:

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Q: What are 2 important roles nutrients are responsible for?
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