Nutrition 101

**this page is an overview….click on the What To Eat tab for day to day advice**

When you eat your body sees the food as basically three large things (macronutrients): PROTEIN, FAT, and/or CARBOHYDRATES.  Most foods are a combination of these three with the predominate nutrient determining is classification.  For example lean fish is considered a PROTEIN and fatty fish is considered to be in the FAT category.  Beyond that, the quality of the food determines its micronutrient content.



classes of fat pyramid jpgFats can be used immediately for fuel or stored.

Examples above. Nuts, seeds, egg yolks, dark meat, oils, butter, full fat dairy

“Lipids” include the following molecules: fatty acids, oils, waxes, sterols like cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids, etc.

(Side note: your body packages “lipids” (cholesterol and trigylcerides) into water soluble “suit cases” called lipoprotein particles…these are subdivided into cholymicrons, VLDL, LDL, HDL…common lipid panels from your doctor measure how much cholesterol is in these suitcases, but do not measure how many suitcases there are.)

“Fatty acids” are the building blocks of fat in our food and our bodies.

“Fats” are a subclass of lipids and are made of chains of fatty acids and glycerol…they may be monoglycerides, diglycerides, triglycerides, etc.  Fatty acids can be subdivided into short, medium, or long as well as either satura ted, monounsaturated, or polyunsaturated, based on the number of double bonds that exist in the fat’s molecular structure. For each of these three classes, there exists a large number of different chemical variations or “isomers”.

Isomer designation – the first number of this designation indicates how many carbon atoms are in the fatty acid molecule, and the number after the colon indicates the number of double bonds. Omega-3 and omega-6 isomers include “n-3” and “n-6” markings, and the letters c and t are used to indicate whether the double bonds are in cis or trans configurations.

This table includes systematic (non-numerical) names, as well as common names.

Fatty Acid Equivalent Names


Isomer Systematic Name Common Name

Saturated Fats

4:0 butanoic acid butyric acid
6:0 hexanoic acid caproic acid
8:0 octanoic acid caprylic acid


decanoic acid capric acid
12:0 dodecanoic acid lauric acid
13:0 tridecanoic acid
14:0 tetradecanoic acid myristic acid
15:0 pentadecanoic acid
16:0 hexadecanoic acid palmitic acid
17:0 heptadecanoic acid margaric acid


octadecanoic acid stearic acid
19:0 nonadecanoic acid
20:0 eicosanoic acid arachidic acid
22:0 docosanoic acid behenic acid
24:0 tetracosanoic acid lignoceric acid
Type Isomer Systematic Name Common Name
Monounsaturated Fats 14:1 tetradecenoic acid myristoleic acid
15:1 pentadecenoic acid
16:1 undifferentiated hexadecenoic acid palmitoleic acid
16:1 c
16:1 t
17:1 heptadecenoic acid
18:1 undifferentiated octadecenoic acid oleic acid
18:1 c
18:1 t
20:1 eicosenoic acid gadoleic acid
22:1 undifferentiated docosenoic acid erucic acid
22:1 c
22:1 t
24:1 c cis-tetracosenoic acid nervonic acid
Type Isomer Systematic Name Common Name
Polyunsaturated Fats 16:2 undifferentiated hexadecadienoic acid
18:2 undifferentiated octadecadienoic acid linoleic acid
18:2 n-6 c,c
18:2 c,t
18:2 t,c
18:2 t,t
18:2 i
18:2 t not further defined
18:3 undifferentiated octadecatrienoic acid linolenic acid (LA)
18:3 n-3 c,c,c alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
18:3 n-6 c,c,c gamma-linolenic acid
18:4 undifferentiated octadecatetraenoic acid parinaric acid
20:2 n-6 c,c eicosadienoic acid
20:3 undifferentiated

eicosatrienoic acid
20:3 n-3
20:3 n-6
20:4 undifferentiated eicosatetraenoic acid arachidonic acid
20:4 n-3
20:4 n-6
20:5 n-3

eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)

timnodonic acid
22:2 docosadienoic acid

brassic acid

22:5 n-3 docosapentaenoic acid (DPA)

clupanodonic acid

22:6 n-3

docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

Read More

Essential fatty acid metabolism


High Omega 6 PUFAs:  Highly Processed Industrial Seed or Vegetable Oils (soybean oil, peanut oil, corn oil, canola oil/rapeseed oil, grapeseed oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil).

Must be broken down into their component Amino Acids to be used for growth or repair.  Can also be converted to glucose for fuel or subsequently into triglycerides and stored as fatty acids.

Examples: Meat, fish, eggs, dairy, soy


Essential Nonessential
Histidine Alanine
Isoleucine Arginine*
Leucine Asparagine
Lysine Aspartic acid
Methionine Cysteine*
Phenylalanine Glutamic acid
Threonine Glutamine*
Tryptophan Glycine
Valine Ornithine*

(*) Essential only in certain cases.



Generally Starches and Sugars are all broken down into their smallest component and used as glucose for fuel or storage (as glycogen or converted and stored as fatty acids).  Fibers and Fructose are handled differently…

Examples: Starches, sugars, cereal, flour, bread, fruit, potatoes

Carbohydrates (aka saccharides) are divided into four groups: monosaccharides, disaccharides, oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides.  Mono- and disaccharides are smaller and generally called “sugars”.

The terms “Simple” (candy, table sugar, fruit) and “Complex” (cereals, breads, pasta) are informal, do not necessarily have significance, and can lead to confusion.


glucose (dextrose)





sucrose (glucose + fructose): table sugar, cane sugar, beet sugar, saccharose

maltose (glucose + glucose): malt sugar

lactose (glucose + galactose): milk sugar

lactulose (galactose + fructose)

others: trehalose, cellobiose, chitobiose







starch (a polymer of glucose)




dietary fiber:

  • soluble fiber (fructans, inulin, pectin, alginic acid)
    • sources: fruits, vegetables, legumes, algae
  • insoluble fiber (beta-glucans: cellulose, chitin. Hemicellulosen, Lingin, Xanthan)
    • sources: plants, fruits, vegetables, cereals, wheat, rye, oats, legumes, insects
  • inulin and oligofructose (onions, garlic, leeks, chichory root, aspargus)
  • resistant starch (bannana, legumes, heated and cooled starches)


The GLYCEMIC INDEX and GLYCEMIC LOAD are scientific calculations that can tell you how quickly and to what extend a particular food will impact your blood sugars.  **more on this topic to follow**



Essential vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, and trace elements


  • Water Soluble: thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), pyridoxine (B6), cobalamine (B12), niacin, pantothanic acide, folic acid, biotin, lipoic acid, vitamin C.
  • Fat Soluble: vitamins A, D, E, K.

Mineral Elements:

  • Major: calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, sodium, chloride, magnesium.
  • Trace: iron, iodine, copper, zinc, manganese, cobalt, chromium, selenium, molybdenum, fluorine, tin, silicon, vandium



  • inositol, choline, carnitine



This is a broad category of food elements typical from fruits in vegetables that have been identified and believed to have certain properties.

  • e.g. lycopene in tomatos
  • Polyphenols
    • Favonoids (anthocyanidins, flavones, flavanols, flavanones, flavonols, isoflavones)
    • Phenolic acids (hydroxycinnamates, hydroxybenzoates)
    • Non-flavonoids (stibenes, coumarins, lignans
  • Terpenes
    • Carotenoids, monoterpenes
  • Sulfur compounds (sulfides)
    • Dially sulfides, isothiocyanates
  • Saponins
    • Triterpenoids, steroids



A broad range of substances found in food that may have various negative consequences when consumed.

  • e.g. lectins, phytates, nightshades



 **this page is under construction…check back for more updates**






Nutrient Appendix:

Upping protein intake slightly may reduce stroke risk

Article: Glycemic Index