Food is the substance consumed by people and animals to sustain life and provide energy. It is usually made up of protein, carbohydrates, fats and other substances. The human body uses the nutrients found in food to perform vital functions such as regulating blood pressure, metabolizing energy and building and repairing tissues.
The types of food people eat vary widely from one country to another and within a country from one region to the next. Many factors influence what people eat, including economics, geography and culture. Historically, people relied on foods produced close to home but improved methods of farming, processing and transport have allowed more people to enjoy foods from far away places.
During prehistoric times, humans were hunter-gatherers who collected fruits, vegetables and meats. Over time, they began to domesticate plants and animals, which led to the development of agriculture and animal husbandry. These advances allow for the cultivation of crops and the raising of livestock in controlled environments.
Healthy eating means choosing a wide variety of nutritious foods. The goal is to obtain adequate amounts of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals in order to maintain good health. It also means avoiding unhealthy foods such as sugar, salt and bad fats.
To ensure a well-balanced diet, choose plenty of vegetables (especially dark green and leafy) and a small amount of fruit. Add whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat or non-fat dairy to your meals. Limit processed and packaged foods, as they tend to be high in sugar, salt and unhealthy fats.
Having the right mix of foods helps fuel our bodies and brains, making us feel good and stay healthy. Foods that are particularly helpful for kids’ brain function include fatty fish such as salmon, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids; eggs, which supply the memory-supporting choline; and nuts and seeds, which contain the essential fatty acid, vitamin E.
Try to eat less meat, as it is high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Instead, eat more poultry, pork and beans, as these are lower in fat and offer important vitamins and minerals. Try to avoid foods that are high in sodium (salt) and fat, as they can increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, obesity and high blood pressure. If you must eat packaged or fast foods, read labels and choose options that are lower in fat and sodium, such as grilled chicken or a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread.