Building Foods: What Are They and What Role Do They Play? - Step To Health

Building Foods: What Are They and What Role Do They Play?

What do eggs, meat, pulses, and tofu have in common? They're all building foods, foods that provide the raw materials with which the body builds its structure, ensure its growth, and replenishes its wear and tear.
Building Foods: What Are They and What Role Do They Play?

Last update: 19 December, 2021

Building foods are the foods that help to build new tissues and various molecules of the body. Their consumption is important in the different stages of life and necessary for a healthy and balanced diet.

When talking about foods as energy, the notions of “regulators” or “builders” is not very commonly used. For this reason, in the following article, we’ll tell you more about the latter, what they are, what functions they perform, and their best sources.

What are building foods?

Las carnes congeladas tienen unas reglas para descongelarse.
Meat is one of the so-called “building foods,” providing protein and minerals.

Foods are substances we consume to provide nutritional support to the body. There are many ways to classify them: for example, according to the group they belong to, their taste, their function, or their degree of processing, among others.

There are three different groups of foods based on their functions: energy foods, regulators, and building foods. To ensure a healthy life, body, and development, it’s necessary that all of them are present in your daily diet.

Building foods contain proteins and minerals in their composition. They provide the necessary substances (amino acids) to build or form body tissues, such as muscles, bones, skin, or blood. They also repair those parts damaged by a blow, an injury, etc.

Everyone needs to consume building foods daily. On some occasions, protein demands are higher, and it’s necessary to increase its presence in your diet. These are key in pregnancy, athletes, sick people, the recently operated, or the elderly.

The main functions of building foods in the body

Now that you know the building foods, it’s time to understand their functions to understand why they’re so important in the body. Let’s take a look.

They participate in the growth and development of the body

All foods that are part of this group have the primary function of building the body and replenishing the daily wear and tear. They provide protein as the main nutrient, which is broken down into amino acids. The latter compounds construct muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, joints, skin, hair, or nails.

In addition, they promote the elasticity of some of these tissues and allow for a contraction and stretching action. This is what happens with the arteries, lungs, or uterus, for example.

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Building foods support the immune system

Next, building foods help form antibodies and certain immune system cells such as lymphocytes or macrophages. They protect the body from harmful invaders such as viruses or bacteria.

They’re necessary for certain chemical reactions

Enzymes are proteins that carry out many biochemical actions, both inside and outside the cells. These reactions are essential for all metabolic processes.

Apart from cellular enzymes, the best known are digestive enzymes such as lactase, lipases, or amylase. However, they’re also required in other functions such as energy production, muscle contraction, and blood clotting.

They contribute to the synthesis of hormones

Like enzymes, hormones are another large group of molecules partly made up of proteins. For this reason, building foods are necessary for their synthesis.

Hormones perform a messenger function that allows communication between cells, tissues, and organs. They include insulin, glucagon, antidiuretic hormones, and growth hormones, among others, so their field of action is very varied.

What are the main building foods?

Huevos aportan vitamina D y proteínas.
Eggs are building foods that provide vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats.

Building foods are considered to be all those foods that provide a good amount of protein and various minerals. Some are of animal origin, and others come from plant sources. Let’s take a look at some.


Eggs are among the healthiest and most nutritious foods. They provide the necessary protein to perform all the functions mentioned above, but also an interesting amount of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats. The most interesting part from a building point of view is egg whites.

Despite the bad reputation due to their cholesterol content, today they’re considered a healthy food. For this reason, they can be consumed by all people (except those with allergies) within the framework of a healthy diet.


Fish provides all the essential amino acids. It’s also a source of other interesting and necessary nutrients such as zinc, iodine, selenium, and phosphorus. Omega 3 fatty acids are also present in oily fish.

Among the building foods of animal origin, fish has a lot of scientific evidence about its beneficial effects on health. As the 2013 Australian Food Guide states: “people who regularly consume diets rich in fish tend to have a lower risk of certain health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, and dementia in older adults.”


All types of meat contain between 16 and 22% protein. The difference between white (or lean) meat and red meat is the fat content, which is higher in the latter.

Chicken is a versatile and mild-tasting alternative. It’s perfect for incorporating at any age and in any situation. Red and processed meats (bacon, sausages, hot dogs…) are not recommended and should therefore be introduced in moderation.

Plant-based building foods: Legumes

These include chickpeas, lentils, broad beans, beans, and soybeans. They’re an excellent source of protein and, therefore, one of the building foods to consider incorporating more regularly in your diet. This is important because building foods are often associated exclusively with animal sources.

Legumes are not only basic in the diet of vegans or vegetarians, but the entire population in general can also benefit from their interesting profile and nutritional value. Thus, it’s advisable to increase their presence in your diet to replace some meat or fish portions.

Tofu and tempeh

Among the vegetable proteins available, those from soybeans are of the highest quality. Both tofu and tempeh are two derivatives that offer a good amount of protein per serving. In addition, those who don’t consume animal products have desserts and soya drink valid alternatives as building foods.

Milk and dairy products

These foods are very interesting for the development of bones due to their content in proteins, vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, or vitamin K (in those made with whole milk).

Among all the products made with milk, the most interesting are milk, yogurt, and cheese. Among these, cottage cheese, fresh cheese, skyr, and Greek yogurt stand out, as they contain more protein and less saturated fat and salt.

Nuts and seeds

All the foods that fall into this group are a treasure for your health. Regular consumption is associated with lower mortality and a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, diabetes, or some types of cancer.

In addition, contrary to popular belief, the consumption of seeds and nuts is not associated with weight gain. This is true as long as the total energy intake does not exceed the needs of each person. Almonds, peanuts, cashews, pistachios, and seeds are the ones with the highest amount of protein in their composition.

Building foods are necessary for the construction and repair of the body

Building foods are essential for developing all body structures: the muscles or skeleton and a host of hormones, enzymes, and other basic molecules for optimal functioning.

To ensure their daily intake, it’s necessary to resort to their best sources. These include eggs, fish, meat, dairy products, soy derivatives, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

In addition to these, there are also regulator foods and energy foods. All types of food should be included in your diet and in the recommended amounts. Doing this in a balanced way is the best way to ensure that there are no deficiencies or excesses of any of them and that all of your bodily functions are developed in the best possible way.

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