Food is any material consumed in order to provide nutrition to an organism. In the simplest terms, food is any material that has been altered to make it fit for human consumption. Generally, food is of animal, plant or bacterial source, and consists of necessary nutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, or other minerals. The major food categories are carbohydrate, protein, vegetable, fruit, dairy products, grain and legume.
Food substances are categorized into two broad categories: carbohydrates and protein. Carbohydrate provides fuel energy for the body, while protein is needed for the building of muscles and tissues. Some food types are complete; i.e. they contain all the nutrients required by the body through their combination with other substances. However, some foods are incomplete, because they lack one or more important nutrients.
Diets that consist mainly of animal sources, which may be chicken, cow, fish, turkey or other meat, have very low levels of carbohydrates and proteins. Therefore, a well-balanced diet is one in which a variety of foods are consumed in small amounts to keep blood sugar levels steady. Animal sources contain all the macro-nutrients that are required in the diet: proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Animal food is rich in fats, which are necessary for the maintenance of healthy cells and tissue growth and function. Animal sources contain high levels of dietary fats such as those in butter and other forms of margarine, milk and cheese. Other fats come from fish, poultry, seeds and nuts. Plants contain no fat but contain essential fatty acids that help to improve the taste and texture of foods.
Eating a well-balanced diet consists of foods from different food groups. These food groups are: carbohydrates, proteins, vegetables and fruit. Carbohydrates are found in vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, pasta and rice, nuts and legumes (beans). Proteins are found in beef, poultry, seafood, poultry and eggs. Fruits are either whole fruits or as juices.
It is important to ensure that the food you eat contains the right proportion of each food group, particularly the important food groups of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Often, we may be attracted to a new food, such as a hot dog, just because it tastes good. While it may taste good, if it doesn’t provide the needed nutrient content we need, then it won’t be a good choice. So, always check to make sure the food you’re choosing has all the ingredients necessary for a balanced diet.