Nutrients

A variety of food is needed in the diet because different food contains different substances that are needed for health. These are nutrients, water and fibre.

Nutrients

Activity 1 - Food and drinks provide nutrients, fibre and water.

Use the Nutrients presentation to introduce the concept that food and drinks provide nutrients, water and fibre. The presentation covers the following points.

  • Food and drinks contains different substances that are needed for health. These are nutrients, water and fibre.
  • All food and drinks provide nutrients.
  • Different types of food and drinks provide nutrients in different amounts.
  • To get the range of nutrients needed, we are all encouraged to eat a variety of food from different food groups – a healthy diet.
  • The nutrients are carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals.
  • Some food also provides fibre. Fibre is important as it helps to keep the gut healthy.
  • We need water to stay alive.

Use the Nutrient cards to help the children explore nutrients further. Ask the pupils to stand at the front of the room and hand out the cards. Explain the abbreviations on the cards (g = gram, mg = milligram, µg = microgram) and that these show 100g of each food. Ask a few questions about the information on the cards to check the children are clear about how to read them, e.g. How many grams of fat is in the food on your card? Ask the pupils to order themselves from highest to lowest in each nutrient - carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals and fibre per 100g. Each time the children have ordered themselves, ask them to look at the food that is highest (and lowest) in the given nutrient or fibre and talk about what they notice. Show the presentation slides which align the nutrients and fibre with food in a food group – does this match which what they are seeing in the line regarding certain food being a main source of certain nutrients (and fibre)?

 

Activity 2 – The amount of a nutrient or fibre provided by a food or drinks, depends on the serving size consumed.

Discuss with the children that the amount of a nutrient provided by a food (or drink) depends on the serving size. Display a selection of food packaging around the room. Ensure the nutrition labels on the packaging provide the nutrients both per 100g and per serving. Here are some ideas for packaged foods to display:

  • Whole grain cereal
  • Canned potatoes
  • Loaf of bread
  • Can of tuna
  • Can of beans
  • Can of chickpeas
  • Tub of spread
  • Tub of butter
  • Bottle of oil (plastic)
  • Bag of carrots
  • Bag of lettuce
  • Packet of tomatoes

Task the children to look at the food labels to complete the worksheet Nutrients and portion size.  Before they start, explain that they will look at total fat and total carbohydrate on the labels so they can ignore the ‘of which saturate’ and ‘of which sugars’ under the fat and carbohydrate information.

When the children have finished, talk about the differences they notice between the amounts of various nutrients per 100g and per serving.

Summarise that the amount of a food eaten will affect the amount of a nutrient provided. To get the range of nutrients needed by the body, we are all encouraged to eat a variety of food from different food groups – a healthy diet.

Below is a table of the key information children should cover during this session.  

 

Food Group

Nutrient (main)

Function

Fruit and vegetables

Vitamins, e.g. Vitamin A and Vitamin C

Vitamin A is needed for night vision.

Vitamin C is needed for the maintenance of healthy skin.

 

Potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy carbohydrates

Carbohydrate

Carbohydrate is the main source of energy for the body.

 

Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins

Protein

 

Minerals, e.g. Iron

 

Protein is needed for growth and repair.

 

Iron is a mineral which is needed for healthy blood.

 

Dairy and alternatives

Minerals, e.g. Calcium

Calcium is a mineral which is needed for the growth and maintenance of strong bones and teeth.

 

Oil and spreads

Fat

Fat is needed for health, but in small amounts.

 

Note: While it is appreciated that nutrients may be provided by more than one food group, at this stage of learning the information has been simplified provide a firm foundation of understanding. Only key examples have been provided.

Activity 3 - Energy is provided by the nutrients carbohydrate, fat and protein.

Explain to the children that as well as having important jobs in the body, the nutrients carbohydrate, protein and fat also provide energy (which is needed by the body to grow, maintain health and be active).

Ask the children to rank the Nutrient cards for food providing the most/least carbohydrate, protein and fat. Compare the amount of energy provided by different nutrients.

  • Is there an association? (For example, spread provides 81.6g fat and 3039kJ energy per 100g, compared with a tomato that provides 0.3g fat and 73kJ per 100g.)

The learning is that while carbohydrate, protein and fat all provide energy, fat provides the most energy per gram (compared to carbohydrate and protein). Inform the children that the main source of energy should be from carbohydrate.

 

Further activities

  • Get children to write a healthy eating report for the school newsletter or website. They could also write recipes or produce a storyboard about healthy eating in a day.
  • Challenge older children to produce a presentation about the nutrients provided by food.
  • You may wish to provide extension activities for some children or show the energy and nutrients provided by a range of food, recipe, menu or diet. Explore Food is a free nutritional analysis tool that enables you to undertake this type of activity. 
7 - 11 YR
Nutrients

A presentation introducing the energy and nutrients provided by food and drinks.

pptx
7 - 11 YR
Nutrient cards

A set of cards showing the amount of energy and nutrients provided by a range of food (per 100g).

docx
7 - 11 YR
Nutrients and portion size

An investigation into the amount of energy and nutrients provided by different portion sizes.

docx
7 - 11 YR
Eatwell guide and nutrients

A worksheet exploring the main nutrients provided the five Eatwell Guide food groups.

docx
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