14.2 Food groups and their nutrients
Main foods (carbohydrates)
In most parts of the world, people eat one main food at each meal. This main food may be injera, rice, maize, wheat, millet, cassava, plantain, kocho, bulla, godere, shenkora, gishta, breadfruit or another low-cost, starchy food which is rich in carbohydrates. These foods give the body energy. But to grow and stay healthy, the body needs other types of food too.
Grow foods (proteins)
Meat, fish and cheese are nutritious foods but they can carry parasites or disease when they are eaten raw. Pregnant women should eat fish, meat or cheese only when it is well cooked or pasteurised.
Grow foods contain protein, which is needed for the growth of muscles, bones, and strong blood. Everyone needs protein to be healthy and to grow. Some grow foods that are high in proteins are:
- Legumes (beans, peas, soybeans, and lentils)
- Cheese, milk and yogurt
- Nuts and seeds
- Cereal, wheat, corn and rice
- Meat, poultry and fish.
Go foods (sugars and fats)
Go foods contain sugars and fats, which give the body energy. Everyone needs these foods to be healthy. Some healthy go foods that are high in sugars are:
Some ‘go foods’ that are high in fats are:
- Some nuts (e.g. peanuts) and some seeds (e.g. sunflower)
- Vegetable oils, butter and lard
- Fatty meat
- Milk and cheese
These days, many people eat more sugars and fats than they need. That is because more people drink sugary soda pop, or eat foods that come from packages instead of foods made at home. These packaged, sugary and fatty foods are expensive and not as healthy as fresh products. They also damage the teeth. It is better to eat go foods that are natural, not packaged.
Glow foods (vitamins and minerals)
Glow foods contain vitamins and minerals, which help the body fight infection and keep the eyes, skin and bones healthy and strong. Vitamins and minerals are known as micronutrients because they are very small. Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals. It is important for pregnant women to eat as many different fruits and vegetables as they can. In the next section, we discuss the five most important vitamins and minerals that pregnant and breastfeeding women should eat every day.