Plant-based food nutrients

How to obtain nutrients in a vegetarian diet

Micronutrients and macronutrients in plant-based food

Choosing plants food as the base of our diet is choosing a natural food plan that will provide health and well-being and will prevent many diseases.

A diet rich in vegetables can supply the basic nutrients to build or rebuild our body and the energy it uses. The nutrients supplied by plants can be macronutrients and micronutrients, depending on the amount the body needs them to be taken.

Micronutrients are needed in small quantities, they are vitamins and minerals. Even though, they are needed in small quantities, its deficiency leads to some very well-known diseases. For example, lack of vitamin A can the the cause of night blindness. Iron deficiency is generally the reason for the appearance of anemia.

Macronutrients are considered like this because the body needs them in larger amounts. They are carbohydrates, fat and proteins.

Carbohydrates (sugars) in plant-based food

plant-based foodDifferent plant-based food

Carbohydrates are the fuel that, when burning, supplies power to the body (calories). Daily need of calories will vary depending on the type of work done, but in general, an adult man with moderate activity needs between 2500 and 4000 calores, and a woman between 2100 and 3000. Carbohydrates provide less calories than fat (4 calories per gram the first and 9 calories per gram the latter).

The role of carbohydrates is to provide energy. The body needs approximately 100 g of carbohydrates daily. They are very important in world food, because they represent about 55% of the total food consumption in developed countries, and more than 80% in underdeveloped countries.

We can find them in vegetals and they are not found within the animal products, except in milk and eggs.

Types of plant-based food carbohydrates

The following table shows the main types of carbohydrates and some of its characteristics.




Function within vegetables

They constitute the reserve components of plants (starch)

They are used to form the vegetable structure. (Classified as simple – fructose, glucose and galactose, and complex (maltose or sucrose.)

Main vegetable parts that have them

Plants with tubers: potatoes, Yacon, sweet potatoes, groundnuts, cassava, sweet potatoes, etc.

Cereals: wheat, barley, oats, rice, etc.

Legumes: peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas, beans, soybeans, etc.

Fruits: apple, strawberry, cherry, fig, orange, pear, etc.

Sugar (sugar cane, sugar beet)


Must be cooked before eating to assimilate them. They are indigestible if eaten raw.

Digestion is slow and the contribution of sugar to the blood is gradual.

They can be eaten raw or cooked; they are easy to assimilate and provide quick energy.

How does the body assimilate them?

In the body, they separate into glucose which is used for combustion cell. The remaining amount is stored as reserve substance in the form of fat.

What is cellulose?

Cellulose is a complex type of sugar that plants use to build their frame. Human enzymes can not break them down so they are not digestible and are defecated in the form of fiber.

The historical importance of vegetable fiber in health has been shown; they prevent constipation, eliminate toxins from the intestines and create the sensation of fullness helping to eat fewer calories, favoring the non-appearance of obesity.

The main suppliers of fiber plants are dried fruit, fleshy fruits, vegetables and legumes.

More information on other nutrients.

This article was endorsed by Elisenda Carballido - Dietitian nutritionist. Postgraduate in Phytotherapy and master in Nutrition and Metabolism.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

15 January, 2023

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