Food is the substance that people eat to obtain nutrients and energy. The dietary choices people make often reflect social and cultural traditions, as well as food availability and accessibility. The process of transforming raw foods into edible, nutritionally complete meals is called food preparation. Food is prepared and preserved by cooking, baking, grilling, smoking, canning, and other methods. The term food can also refer to a drink or snack, such as coffee or chocolate, or a condiment or seasoning.
Most people rely on staple foods, which supply a large proportion of their calories and nutrient requirements. Staples include grains, legumes (beans and lentils), fruits, vegetables, and nuts and seeds. These foods are often cheap to produce and easy to grow and transport. They provide starch for energy, protein, micronutrients, and dietary fibre. The amount of these foods that people consume varies around the world, but improved processing, refrigeration, storage, and transportation technologies allow many people to eat a wide variety of foods from other countries and regions.
Eating healthy means getting the right amount of nutrients for your body type. The dietary requirements of an individual vary, and it is important to consult with a health professional before planning what to eat. Eating too much of some nutrients can be harmful, while eating too little can leave you deficient.
Foods that are high in fat, salt, and sugar can increase your risk for heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and other health problems. To improve your diet, try to limit foods that are high in fat and sugar, such as red and processed meat, fried potatoes, sweetened beverages, and candy. Instead, choose foods that are low in fat and high in nutrients, such as whole grains, dark leafy greens, avocados, berries, and extra virgin olive oil.
Most people are interested in the taste of food, but some are also concerned about how it affects their health. Foods that are high in sodium (salt) can raise your blood pressure, and added sugars can lead to weight gain and tooth decay. To improve your diet, try to limit salty foods and eat more foods that are naturally low in sodium, such as fresh seafood, lean meats, whole grains, and unsweetened dairy products. It is also important to read food labels, as some manufacturers hide large amounts of sodium and added sugars in packaged foods.