Food is any material eaten to provide nutrition to the organisms. In the human diet, food is generally of animal, plant or fungi origin, and usually contains vital nutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, or minerals essential for life. Although the word ‘food’ is derived from the Greek word meaning to eat, it does not necessarily refer to the eating of food. It often involves the ingestion of food or beverages intended to nourish the body. In nature, food supplies are seasonal and subject to ecological factors. There are five major food groups: carbohydrates, protein, fats, vegetables, and fruits.
Carbohydrates are used in the manufacture of food products and are the source of energy for the body. These can be carbohydrates obtained from foods like rice, bread, pasta, cereal, corn, etc., or from certain products such as sugar, yeast, hops, vinegar, coffee, tea, nuts, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, and potatoes. Examples of carbohydrates are sugar (sucrose), which is a sugar derived from fruit, milk, and cheese; starch, which includes bread, cereals, pasta, rice, nuts, and potatoes; vitamins, which are food-borne compounds found in various food varieties; and acid-alkali compounds, which are organic chemicals that serve to enhance the flavor, nutritional value, and texture of food. Deficiencies in some of these food groups can cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Protein is the building block of all muscle tissues and is needed for growth and maintenance of health. The most widely consumed food source for protein is meat. However, the consumption of processed meats, poultry, fish, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and grains all have low levels of protein. Animal foods, especially red meat, contain large amounts of saturated fat that can lead to obesity and other related health problems.
Fats are both an essential part of a healthy diet and also make up a major proportion of most calories in the average person’s diet. They provide short-term calories that may be used by the body immediately for energy. Saturated fats are the most common component of packaged foods. These are commonly found in fried foods, junk food, processed food, fast food, and sweets. However, trans-fats, or partially hydrogenated oils, are a more common source of calories in foods today. Trans fats can lead to an increased cholesterol level, which is associated with increased risks of heart disease and other chronic conditions.
Salt is an essential part of food and regardless of the two votes mentioned above, it is important to choose salt with caution. Sodium is used to eliminate excess moisture from foods and to add flavor. However, high levels of sodium can cause high blood pressure, kidney stones, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer. For this reason, it is especially important to choose salt carefully.
Carbohydrates are essential to a balanced diet, but it is also important to watch how many carbohydrates you eat, especially foods that are high in sugar. High levels of refined carbohydrates are not only bad for the body but also have been shown to contribute to overeating and other eating disorders. Unrefined carbohydrates, on the other hand, provide the body with fiber and are generally good for your health. While it may seem difficult to avoid carbohydrates, knowing what they are and how refined they are makes it much easier.