What is food? Food is any material consumed to supply nutrients to an organism. Generally speaking, food is generally of plant, animal, or fungi origin, and usually contains some basic nutrients, like proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, or mineral salts. The primary nutrient is protein, which is the building block of all living organisms. Plants and animals each require food to survive, but the dietary needs of humans are quite different from those of plants and animals.
All foods contain nutrients to some extent, but the type and amount of each nutrient may vary greatly. Plants contain many substances that are necessary to life, including carbohydrates, vitamins, and fats. Fishes contain a wide range of chemicals and nutrients as well. Fishes also must extract these nutrients from their aquatic environments, for example through eating and digesting various algae, tiny creatures called phytoplankton, and tiny underwater plants called phytoplanktons. Animals, on the other hand, must consume meat, fur, feathers, and organs to obtain the necessary nutrients for growth and health.
Many people think that if they eat enough vitamin A, for instance, they will remain healthy. And, indeed, vitamin A is necessary for the development of healthy skin, but most of us don’t get enough vitamin A through natural food sources, especially in the United States, where most people eat more fruits and vegetables than any other country in the world. Americans typically eat twice as much food per person as any other country, yet they still suffer from chronic Vitamin A deficiency. One reason that the U.S. does not get enough Vitamin A is that most farmers grown food here don’t use genetically modified seeds, so there isn’t much of an opportunity for the soil to naturally provide the important nutrition that most vitamin A foods need. Another problem is that the process of creating genetically modified seeds is expensive, so farmers can’t afford to save and store them for later use.
The best source of vitamin A for Americans is sweet potatoes, which contain a lot of carotenoids, beta-carotene, folic acid, as well as potassium, iron, and many other important nutrients. Just about all of the carrots and spinach that you will eat are also good sources of Vitamin A. As with other fruits used locally and add others to the list. When making the vegetable and fruit choices for your meals, be sure to keep in mind what the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A is for women and children ages 1 through 12. Be sure to choose foods that are high in beta-carotene and other nutrients so you will get the greatest benefits from the fruits and vegetables that you choose.
Fats and Oils. All fats and oils are good for you, except Trans fats and hydrogenated oils. These are considered bad for you because they are usually made from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils that contain a high amount of saturated fat. Foods like coconut oil, olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil, and soybean oil are excellent choices. As for vitamins, choose ones with a wide range of colors, which provide more nutritional benefit. Vitamin E is great for maintaining healthy skin and is an excellent source of antioxidants.
Sweet Foods. Again, these should be avoided as much as possible. This includes sugary foods and those that contain added sugars or corn syrup. Even refined grains are better than refined sugar because they provide fiber, minerals, vitamins and nutrients in equal amounts. This means oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, corn bread, corn tortillas, corn soup, popcorn, sweet potatoes and any other food that are high in fiber, minerals, vitamins and nutrients.