Food is any material taken from a living thing, to provide nutrition to the organisms. In the simplest terms food is any organic material prepared for human consumption. In scientific terminology food is generally of animal, plant or fungi origin, and has necessary substances, including vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, or minerals, for the development of an organism. The process of food digestion involves breaking down the food into simpler compounds, the energy for the cell being released in the form of heat.
The types of food that an individual consumes depends on their diet; some people eat food to satisfy their energy requirements while others eat food to acquire health benefits. A major portion of the human population still consumes animal products like milk, eggs and meat for the protein and mineral content. On the other hand, vegetarian individuals do not eat meat, except in the case of fish and lentils which are rich in protein and very low in fat. However, the vegetable content in vegetarian food is very high, especially lentils and pulses, and therefore vegetarian food is popular amongst many people.
Diets containing adequate amounts of calcium, iron, and other vitamins are very important for general health and well being, therefore a balanced diet is essential for the maintenance of good health. Vegetables and fruits constitute the main source of food in most countries. The major vegetable groups are beans, root vegetables, cucumbers, carrots, spinach, squash, okra, potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, spinach, peppers and carrots. Fruits consist of apple, peach, pear, banana, plum, grapes, kiwi, strawberry, pineapples and raisins. Some of the most important fruit groups are bananas, oranges, grapes, berries, peaches, apricots, cantaloupe and kiwi.
Animal products consist of meat, milk and eggs. These foods are eaten in order to obtain protein, fat and vitamins. These animal products are also very important for the development of the human body, thus they are essential for the diet. Meat is mainly used for cooking, salting, curing, drying, etc., while dairy products are mainly used for making cheese, butter, cream and butter, yoghurt, milk, cream-based ice cream and frozen food. Seafood, poultry and fish are some other sources of food.
Oily food and salt are the main constituents of seafood. Fish is considered the staple food of most countries, and in many parts of the world fish is eaten in considerable quantities on a daily basis. Almost all the food groups mentioned above are eaten on a daily basis in almost all countries; however, due to their diversity, they are hardly consumed as a single source of food. They form an important part of the balanced diet in India, and it is interesting to note that most of the food varieties mentioned above are consumed together as a single dish in most of the places where they are found.
For further details, the students were taught about the nutritional value of the various food groups, how much of each is needed, and what is the best source of each of the nutrients. During the study session 2 nutrients were explained briefly in detail. Fruits, vegetables and pulses were the three major sources of non-energy calories, which include carbohydrates, protein, fat, and minerals. These sources are all important for nutrition, but the consumption of a large quantity of any single of them is not good for health. Therefore, students should include foods that contain all three of these nutrients in their diets, or take supplements that provide at least a certain level of these nutrients, for a balanced diet.