Throughout our history, human beings have developed omnivorous diets, allowing them to survive in many ecosystems. For most of that time, humans obtained their food through gathering, hunting, and agriculture. The development of agriculture and other technologies enabled human settlements to expand, and the consequent changes to the environment altered human diets. Geographical and cultural differences have shaped human diets, leading to the creation of diverse cuisines and culinary arts. In recent years, global trade has enabled more people to access fresh ingredients and foods, while also fostering cosmopolitan exchange of diverse food traditions.
Minimally processed foods consist of natural edible parts of plants and animals, which have undergone only a small amount of processing. These types of foods are characterized by slight alteration to ensure their safety and preservation, without impairing their nutritional content. Such processing may include cleaning and milling inedible parts, pasteurization, cooking, freezing, and fermentation. Many fresh foods fall into this category. If you’re unsure of which foods are minimally processed, ask your family doctor or nutritionist for advice.
There are specific nutrient recommendations for each food group. The targets vary based on age, sex, activity, pregnancy, and breastfeeding, as well as sickness and recovery. The USDA Food Patterns specify target percentages of each food group in each category. In addition, the recommended daily intake of added sugars and saturated fats are low, and Americans are encouraged to choose the foods that are nutrient-dense. Adding sugars and saturated fats to your diet should not exceed 10% of total calories.
Eating a variety of foods ensures adequate nutrition. Topic 3 discusses how to mix and match various foods to create a nutritious meal. Appendix I provides a list of nutrient-rich foods for each nutrient. In addition, staple foods are inexpensive and provide the essential elements of a nutritious diet. They supply starch for energy, protein, some micronutrients, and dietary fibre. Legumes and other high-fat foods also provide a high-quality source of fat.
Vegetables should account for a substantial portion of the diet. Vegetables are important sources of essential vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre, and phytonutrients. All of these components help the body stay healthy. And remember, fruits and vegetables should be a part of every meal! You can add these foods to your daily meal plan if you want to see results in a matter of weeks. The more fruit and vegetables you consume, the healthier you will be.
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate found in many plant foods, including cereal, oat bran, and quinoa. Fiber-rich vegetables are excellent sources of fiber, and eating them can lower your cholesterol levels and prevent stomach problems. Fruits, on the other hand, add flavor and color to your diet and can be healthy snacks and desserts. Some fruits grown on trees include apricots, cherries, peaches, and mangoes, and they contain other types of fiber. Grapes, pineapples, and figs are also high-fiber sources.