Understanding Macronutrients & Micronutrients On Your Plant-Based Diet
I know it sounds like we are in biology class again, but put simply, macronutrients and micronutrients are the puzzle pieces (the nutrients) we need to keep our health and metabolic system functioning at its best.
So, let’s learn what macronutrients and micronutrients are and why they are so important!
What Are Macronutrients?
Macronutrients are more commonly known as our carbohydrates, fats, and protein. These are necessary for everyone to get in their diet, everyday. Giving your body all of the macronutrients it needs, and in the right amounts, is the key to successful health and wellness.
Below are your three essential macronutrients, why you need them, and sources of that macronutrient.
Carbohydrates are our energy source and it contains most of the fiber and energy our body requires. Healthy examples: Brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, oat bran, vegetables, fruit, and potatoes.
Healthy Fats (Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated)
Healthy Fats (Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated) help protect skin and organs. They also assist immune system health and may prevent cancer. Healthy examples: Nuts, seeds, avocados, olives.
Proteins are essential in maintaining, rebuilding, and protecting all of the cells throughout our bodies. Healthy examples: soybeans, tofu, beans, nuts, and seeds, and grains.
> check out these amazing sources of plant proteins
If you feel like you are struggling to get a wide variety of macros – choosing food like tofu, nuts and seeds that contain good amounts of each macronutrient all in one package.
What Are Micronutrients?
Micronutrients are an essential part of our diet as well. However, it is necessary to get every single micronutrient in every meal we eat, it is just important to ingest a majority of them daily. They consist of the daily vitamins and minerals our body requires and are usually needed in only trace amounts.
I have listed a few of them below with the roles they have in our body. Keep in mind there are many more than this but I just wanted to list a few important ones:
Vitamin A is important for good vision, a healthy immune system, and skin health. This vitamin can be found in many plant foods including sweet potatoes, butternut squash, red bell peppers, and carrots.
Vitamin B supports a healthy metabolism, muscle tone, and healthy skin. There is a collection of different B vitamins and they can come from different sources but here is what you should aim to reach for:
- whole grains
- nutritional yeast
- acorn squash
- B12 or B complex supplement to cover your bases
Vitamin C fights free radicals in the body that may help prevent disease and cancer. The best vegan sources of vitamin C are citrus fruit, papaya, pineapple, melon, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackcurrants, kiwi, mango, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, spinach, spring greens, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes.
Try out vitamin C packed spinach in my green smoothie recipe
Vitamin D improves bone and tooth health and is important for a healthy immune system. Great ways for those on a plant-based diet to get vitamin D is by eating tofu, mushrooms, and foods fortified with vitamin D. The most efficient source is from the sun. Check out LiveKindly’s article on Vitamin D sources for more info.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that is important in the protection and production of healthy skin, hair, and organs. It can be found in many fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
Calcium helps maintain our bone health and may help control weight. Some people worry they can’t get calcium without milk but good news you can find an abundant amount in almonds, soy milk, chia seeds, figs, beans, and much more!
Iron improves blood and muscle function and treats anaemia. Tofu. lentils, chickpeas, nuts, and seeds are all great sources of iron.
Zinc repairs and protects cells for healthier function. It also helps detox to prevent diseases and to assist our digestive system. Tofu, nuts, seeds, beans, and rolled oats.
Eating a Balanced Diet
A balanced diet with careful attention to your macronutrients and adding a variety of bright colored produce, as well as other whole foods, like grains, nuts, beans, seeds can ensure that you are also getting the essential micronutrients your body requires.
See my related blog post about plant-based protein in more depth. Oh yeah, I have an important one on the importance of carbohydrates also! Must read!
If you are plant-based or vegan, consider a vitamin B12 supplement. Our modern day planet does not contain as much B12 in the soil as it once did. The only reason meat-eaters get enough B12 is because farmers are supplementing their cows with B12.
Other Useful Blogs:
What are the 3 macronutrients by Health Reform
Calcium’s effect on the body by Healthfully