Major nutrients and their functions and sources

The table below lists the major nutrients (macronutrients), their functions, and their sources in food.

Nutrients in foods
Nutrient Function Sources
Protein Provides energy; builds and repairs body cells; part of various enzymes, hormones, and antibodies Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes, milk and milk products, vegetables, grains
Carbohydrate Provides energy needed by the brain, nervous system, and red blood cells Breads, cereal grains, pasta, rice, fruit, vegetables, milk, sugar
Fat Provides energy; carries other fat-soluble nutrients (vitamins); part of cell membranes, membranes around nerves, hormones, bile (for fat digestion)

Meat, poultry, fish, milk and milk products, nuts and seeds, oils, butter, margarine, salad dressing, some candy, some desserts

Last Updated: January 14, 2010

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