What is the difference between food and nutrients?

What is the difference between food and nutrients?

What is the difference between food and nutrients? Food means any substance which, when taken into the body, enables an organism to grow and maintain health. Food makes our bodywork, grow, and repair itself. The kind of food we eat can affect the efficiency of these processes. Foods contain nutrients. Getting to know which nutrients are in which foods can help us to understand something of this complex relationship between food and our body.

Before we consider nutrients, we should know about nutrition. Because it is the main thing when considering nutrients.


This means the science of food and the nutrients and other substance they contain and their actions within the body. This is the selection and use of those ingredients or nutrients found in food, and it is essential for the production and/or life of the body.


Nutrient means chemical substances that are obtained from foods and provide nourishment essential for the maintenance of life and for growth.

Nutrient categories

  • Carbohydrate             
  • Protein                 
  • Fat
  • Vitamins            
  • Minerals             
  • Water

When considering these nutrients under the topic of “What is the difference between food and nutrients?” there are two categories of them as macronutrients and micronutrients.


These are the major nutritional components that are present in relatively large amounts. Carbohydrates, proteins, and fat are the macronutrients. Proteins can further divide into amino acids. Carbohydrates can further divide into simple carbohydrates (sugars), complex carbohydrates (starches), and dietary fiber. Also, there are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in fats.


These are the major nutritional components that are present in relatively small amounts. Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients.

Nutrient needs depend on age, sex, body size, growth, physiological status, physical activities, and metabolic rates. These nutrients can be categorized into 3 types. Those are,

  • Energy giving nutrients – Carbohydrate, Fat, Protein
  • Bodybuilding nutrients – Protein
  • Protective nutrients      – Vitamins, Minerals

Now you can easily understand the difference between food and nutrients by the above facts. Food is the behavior of living organisms to eat some form of food, solid or liquid, to satisfy their biological needs. Then the nutrients are contained in those foods.

The stability of nutrients in food may depend on their environment. Nutrients can be lost in varying degrees depending on various factors. The temperature can affect nutrient loss. Also, the ability of nutrients to dissolve in water may affect their loss because the water is later thrown away. If the food is exposed to light or air, acid or alkali, it may affect also the loss of nutrients. The presence of acid or alkali can destruction of some vitamins. These ways that we can say as ways of loss of nutrients in food. These things are also very important when considering the topic of “What is the difference between food and nutrients?”

Levels of loss of nutrients during processing and storage

There are three levels of loss of nutrients as great, intermediate, and less level. Various nutrients may lose at various levels.

  • Great – vitamin B1, vitamin C
  • Intermediate – vitamin A, pro-vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid
  • Less- carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamin K, niacin, biotin

When considering nutrient loss, we can use different methods to preserve nutrients in foods. Reduce exposure to air, water, and sunlight, cook for short periods, and use cooking water for consumption. Also, avoiding very high temperatures, and reducing the frequency of washing are some other tips that we can use to preserve nutrients in foods. 

Foods can contain colors (natural and synthetic), flavors, pharmacologically active substances (such as caffeine, steroids, and salicylates that have a chemical effect on the body), natural toxicants (natural poisons such as cyanide), additives, and various pollutants (substances resulting from a contaminated environment, such as pesticides). Even characteristic flavors such as those of oranges and passionfruit can depend on the presence of a dozen or more chemicals.

The chemical nature of food is altered through storage, preservation, and in particular through cooking. Food chemicals may also interact inside the body with one another. For example, the availability to the body of iron from plant sources depends on the amount of vitamin C present in the food eaten. The way in which carbohydrate is absorbed from the bowel depends to some extent on the presence of dietary fiber, even though the fiber itself is not absorbed.

Functions of food

  • Supply material for energy production
  • Provide structural materials
    • Building new tissues
    • Repair tissues
  • Supply substances that allow and stimulate the body to produce energy and to grow

What is the difference between food and nutrients? When considering this, there are various types of people in the world. Also, they consume various types of foods according to their preferences. When considering that thing, there are various factors that affect food choices among people. Those are,

  • Personal preference
  • Habit
  • Social interactions
  • Ethnic heritage or tradition
  • Emotional comfort
  • Availability, convenience, and economy
  • Positive and negative associations
  • Values
  • Nutrition
  • Bodyweight and image

Also, when considering foods, we can consume foods with or without processing. We can divide the foods we consume into processed foods and ultra-processed foods.

Processed foods

Processed foods are whole foods in which the vitamins and nutrients are still intact. Also, the foods are in their natural or nearly natural state. Through removal of inedible parts, drying, crushing, roasting, boiling, freezing, or pasteurization, these foods may be minimally altered to make them suitable for storage and safe to consume. Sometimes their natural state was changed by adding salt, oil, sugar, or other substances. Examples include canned fish, canned vegetables, fruits in syrup, and freshly made bread.

Ultra-processed foods

Ultra-processed foods most likely have many added ingredients such as sugar, salt, fat, and artificial colors or preservatives. These foods are made mostly from substances extracted from foods, such as fats, starches, added sugars, and hydrogenated fats. Also, they may contain additives like artificial colors and flavors or stabilizers. They may have lots of saturated fats and salt. Also, may cause serious health problems such as obesity, cancers, and high blood pressure. Examples include frozen meals, soft drinks, hot dogs, cold cuts, fast food, packaged cookies, cakes, and salty snacks.

When considering the above facts under the topic of “What is the difference between food and nutrients?” there is very valuable information about food and nutrition. You can get a basic idea about food, nutrients, nutrients loss, and preservation of nutrients through this article. These things are very important in day-to-day life. Also, you can know many things about food and well-being by staying with us and considering following us on Facebook and Instagram.

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