Food – A Major Part of Human Nutrition
Food is any material consumed to provide nutrition to an individual organism. It may be vegetable, fruit, grain or cooked or raw; in any form. Food is generally of animal, plant or fungi origin, and includes essential nutrients, including vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, and minerals.
A typical food pyramid guide shows that the top two groups, ‘animal foods’ and ‘plant foods’ contain the main sources of dietary fiber. Animal foods include milk and dairy products, poultry and fish, red meat, processed meats, sugarcane and other refined sugar products, and cereals that are derived from plants. Plant foods are vegetables (i.e. legumes, green vegetables, fruits), grains, seeds, nuts, and whole grains.
The main source of fat in food is oil, which is either natural or artificial. Saturated fats and trans-fatty acids are more harmful to health than the polyunsaturated fats that are not saturated and trans-fatty acids. A diet rich in fat is considered high in fat and should be avoided by those who are obese or overweight, have a chronic illness, or are taking medication that affects blood lipid levels. Carbohydrates are food substances that provide energy and are found in various types of food. They provide small amounts of energy throughout the day, whereas carbohydrates are converted into sugar in the body and become fat.