The word “food” can refer to any substance ingested to provide nutrition to an individual. Generally speaking food is generally of animal, plant or fungi origin, and usually contains various necessary nutrients, including vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, sugars, or other minerals. The food eaten by man is divided into two broad categories: animal and plant. Animal food refers to meat, milk and eggs and is predominantly derived from mammals (including humans). Plant food refers to all edible material produced by plants, which may be either plant or animal derived and includes fruit, vegetables, grains, seeds, etc.
Plants are the primary source of food, and in fact almost everything that we eat is a product of the human body. Plants are nourished through the foods that animals eat, but plants also obtain vital nutrients in the process of photosynthesis. All food forms, whether consumed internally or externally, contain the necessary components for growth and development of the species concerned. Thus, plant foods are the most important food groups and collectively account for more than 80% of our diet.
Humans have invented a lot of clever ways to get more from food. One such method is to alter the way it is consumed. Through the use of cereals and other highly processed (and often sugar-rich) carbohydrates, we are able to take advantage of the fact that carbohydrates are very soluble in water. We then take advantage of the fact that sugar is not so soluble, by creating cakes and other processed food with lots of sugar.
But these processed food products are very expensive and so the next best thing to do would be to turn to foods that are more natural or that are closer to the level of our natural food – such as maize. M maize (corn) is used extensively around the world for animal feed and as a source of proteins in the diet. And although it is not considered a complete food, yet it provides a huge number of benefits for human nutrition:
A well balanced diet is certainly essential for the good health of all of us. But what about those of us who do not eat meat or whose diet does not include meat or fish, but includes some form of fruit and vegetables? In this case, what should be added to the diet to make up for the lack of animal sources of protein and vitamins? In recent years, the addition of small amounts of vegetable oils like palm oil, sunflower oil and so on has been widely used as a marketing strategy for replacing animal fats in the diet. The problem is that these vegetable oils are highly nutritious; and even though they replace animal fats, they also contain highly concentrated levels of other unhealthy fats.
Therefore, people need to be careful how they select their own sources of nutrients. The main food groups are protein, carbohydrates, fat and vegetables. There are plenty of opportunities to choose products that fit into any of these food groups. For example, a balanced diet can be provided by eating cheese, eggs, milk, yoghurt, mushrooms, beans and so on, without being guilty of eating red meat, processed meats or fish. As with many other things, we have to exercise moderation and be selective about which food is consumed. This will keep us in good physical shape and help to maintain a healthy weight.