The term food refers to the whole group of substances that are consumed to supply nutrition to an organism. In simple terms, food is food made up of anything that an organism needs to grow, reproduce or maintain its health. Food is generally of animal, plant or fungus origin, and includes essential nutrients, including protein, vitamins, carbohydrates, fats, sugars or other minerals. The nutritional value of food is the amount of a nutrient that can be extracted from it or absorbed by the body. Since each person needs a different amount of all nutrients, food is classified into three main categories, with the rest being less important.
Animal foods are meat, poultry, fish and eggs. Plant foods are vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts, seeds and grain. Fruits, vegetables and grains are complete proteins because they contain all of the necessary amino acids (proteins) that are needed to complete the body’s metabolic processes and build new tissue. Animal foods are considered to be complete proteins only when they contain all of the dietary requirements of an animal such as protein, fat, vegetable oil, vitamins, minerals, fibre and starch. In this sense, all animal products are considered to be food.
A diet rich in food containing vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber provides the body with all of the energy it needs to function normally. Although most people consume diets rich in food to meet their energy requirements, most people don’t realize that the food they consume also provides them with the antioxidants needed to prevent diseases. Foods that are rich in antioxidants include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans. Foods that are deficient in antioxidants are processed foods, junk foods, fast foods, sugar and alcohol.
Processed or convenience foods, including packaged, canned, frozen, processed and ready-to-eat foods, are sometimes referred to as “processed” because they have had some of their nutrients removed during the manufacturing process. Some examples of these types of foods are potato chips, cookies, white bread, canned soup, crackers and wafers, tuna and macaroni and cheese. Although some people may consider these types of snack foods to be healthy, they are not because they usually contain little nutrition and are often low in dietary fiber, especially in comparison to whole grain foods. Even though they may taste good, eating them too often can lead to a lack of nutrition and weight gain.
Unprocessed foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, whole wheat pastas, sprouts, herbs and other natural food are better for your health than those processed foods like potato chips, cookies, white bread and canned soup. All of these types of food contain a wide range of vitamins and minerals that you need on a regular basis. Although these foods are high in fiber and other nutrients that help you to feel full, they are still high in calories and thus should be eaten in moderation. Consuming too many calories of any type causes weight gain. Eating a diet that is rich in fresh vegetables and fruit every day is a great way to get the vitamins and minerals you need and keep your weight in check.
When you eat enough vitamin C, which is one of the most important antioxidants, you will have higher amounts of energy and will not get sick as often from diseases like heart disease. Eating foods that are high in beta carotene, found in carrots, squash, cantaloupe and tomatoes, can help to protect your eyes against age-related eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Vitamin E is another powerful antioxidant that you want to include in your diet. If you want to live a long and healthy life, it is important to eat foods that have plenty of these nutrients so that you can remain healthy and fight off disease.