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Know More About Energy and Nutrients

Energy / Nutrients

Functions / Health Effects

What You Should Know

Energy

  • Supports activities of human body.
  • Getting too much energy increases the risk of overweight and obesity, leading to increased risk of heart diseases, diabetes and certain types of cancer.

 

 

  • Energy requirement depends on age, gender, body weight and activity level :
    • e.g. a saleslady with 56 kg body weight, mostly standing during work, needs about 2000 kcal a day.
  • Body weight is associated with energy balance. If energy intake is higher than energy expenditure, body weight will increase. If energy intake is lower than energy expenditure, body weight will decrease.
  • Units of energy in food include kilocalories (kcal) and kilojoules (kJ)
    • 1 kcal ~ 4.2 kJ

 

Carbohydrates

  • Provide major source of energy for the body.
    • 1g of carbohydrates provides 4 kcal

 

  • For a 2000-kcal diet, one should get about 300g of carbohydrates daily*.
  • Available carbohydrates = Total carbohydrates – Dietary fibre

 

Sugars

  • Sugars provide energy for the body but have no other nutritional value. Getting too much sugars may lead to excessive energy intake, increasing the risk of overweight and obesity. Frequent and excessive intake of sugars can also cause dental caries.
  • Sugars, in the form of glucose, serves as an immediate energy source for the brain.

 

  • For a 2000-kcal diet, one should get not more than 50g of sugars daily *.
  • Examples of foods with naturally occurring sugars:
    • Honey, syrups, fruit, milk
  • Examples of foods with added sugars:
    • Sweetened fruit juices and soft drinks, candies, chocolates, cookies

Protein

  • Essential for growth, building muscle, bones and teeth.
  • Repairs body tissues.
  • Provides energy.
    • 1 g of protein provides 4 kcal

 

  • For a 2000-kcal diet, one should get about 60g of protein daily*.
  • Children, adolescents, pregnant and lactating women need higher amount of protein.

 

Total fat

  • A concentrated source of energy (1 g of fat provides 9 kcal). Eating too much fat is linked to increased risk of overweight and obesity, leading to increased risk of heart diseases, diabetes and certain types of cancer.
  • Essential for maintaining the function of cell membranes as well as transporting and storing fat-soluble vitamins including vitamin A, D, E and K.
  • For a 2000-kcal diet, one should get not more than 60g of fat daily*.
  • 1 tablespoon of oil provides about 14 g of fat.

 

Saturated fat

  • Both saturated fat and trans fat raise the level of low-density lipoprotein (“bad”) cholesterol in the blood.
  • For a 2000-kcal diet, one should get not more than 20g of saturated fat daily*.

 

Trans fat

  • Trans fat also lowers the level of high-density lipoprotein (“good”) cholesterol in the blood.
  • Eating too much saturated fat and trans fat increases the risk of heart diseases.
  • For a 2000-kcal diet, one should get not more than 2.2g of trans fat daily*.

 

Sodium

  • Eating too much sodium increases the risk of high blood pressure.
  • A small amount of sodium is needed to maintain body fluids balance and help transmit nerve impulse.
  • Limit sodium intake to not more than 2000 mg a day.
  • The chemical name of salt is sodium chloride (NaCl).
  • The major dietary intake of sodium is from salt. Sodium can also be found in monosodium glutamate (MSG), soy sauce and seasoning sauces.
  • 1 level teaspoon of salt provides 2000 mg of sodium.

Cholesterol

  • Cholesterol can be produced by our own body and is essential for maintaining the normal function of cells, synthesizing hormones, vitamins and bile in body.
  • High blood cholesterol is a risk factor for heart diseases.
  • Limit cholesterol intake to not more than 300 mg a day.

 

Dietary Fibre

  • There are two types of dietary fibre:
    • Soluble fibre may help to lower blood cholesterol level and stabilise blood sugar level
    • Insoluble fibre is important for proper bowel function
  • Food rich in dietary fibre can also help weight management.

 

  • One should aim to increase intake of dietary fibre. For an average adult, eat not less than 25g per day.

 

* Individual intake amounts may be higher or lower depending on energy requirements.

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Last Revision Date : 01-12-2009