You may have seen common culinary nutrition terms like macronutrients or antioxidants bandied about in books, podcasts, websites and articles, or splashed onto food labels, and wondered what they mean. Whether you have a personal interest in nutrition, have an existing food or health business, or want to launch a new food-related career, getting to know the common lingo is extremely helpful and can empower you to make informed decisions about what to eat.
Let’s delve into some basic culinary nutrition terminology!
guide to basic culinary nutrition terms
Macronutrients are the nutrients your body needs in large amounts. The three primary macronutrients are carbohydrates, fat and protein (more on those below).
Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals your body needs in small amounts. While you don’t need a boatload of them, micronutrients play many key roles in our health.
Carbohydrates are a macronutrient that is one of our main sources of fuel. Carbohydrates, or carbs, are synthesized in plant-based foods and are comprised of sugars.
Simple Sugars: Monosaccharides (one sugar molecule)
When we put sugar molecules together, we get:
Disaccharides (two sugar molecules)
Polysaccharides (many sugar molecules)
These are long chains of sugars that form complex carbohydrates such as:
gums and mucilage
Are Carbs Good or Bad?
It depends on the type of carbohydrate and what you’re consuming along with it. Highly refined carbohydrates like white sugar, refined flours, white rice, white bread, juice, baked goods and pasta are digested and absorbed quickly, leading to spikes in blood sugar levels. Complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, fruits, beans, and gluten-free whole grains take longer for us to break down into those smaller sugars, leading to sustained energy levels and balanced blood sugar throughout the day.
Fibre (or fiber, if you’re not headquartered in Canada like we are) are carbohydrates that we can’t fully digest….