Food is any substance consumed by an organism to provide energy for survival. It is usually of plant or animal origin and contains essential nutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals. Different organisms have unique feeding strategies that enable them to meet their nutritional needs in their environment. The human food chain connects producers, processors, manufacturers and consumers to ensure that a sufficient supply of healthy foods is available.
People choose what to eat based on many factors, including cultural traditions, availability, taste and cost. The way foods are prepared and presented also plays a role. For example, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding are eaten together in English tradition and kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish that contains vegetables and fermented cabbage. The growing number of immigrants to cities has also contributed to the diversity of the world’s cuisines, as people bring their own recipes and ingredients with them to share with others.
A well-balanced diet includes a variety of foods from each of the five food groups. This includes whole grains, lean meats, fruits, dairy and healthy fats. Eating a variety of foods helps to protect against health conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
Processed food is any agricultural product that has been changed from its natural state. This can include washing, cleaning, milling, chopping, cooking, baking, freezing, canning, drying or any combination of these processes. Most of the food we eat is processed to some extent, and it begins to degrade and lose nutrients as soon as it is harvested. Food processing reduces the risk of spoilage and extends the shelf life of food by making it easier to store, transport and serve. It can also enhance the quality of food by removing undesirable components, preserving desirable sensory qualities and adding nutrients or flavorings.
In the past, people gathered wild plants, hunted game and raised livestock for their own consumption and that of their families. With the advent of agriculture, people began to cultivate and raise crops for commercial sale and consumption. Today, people around the world are able to enjoy foods from all over the globe due to advances in transportation and storage technologies.
While eating a diet rich in all the foods required for good health, it is important to avoid those high in saturated fats and added sugars. These can contribute to weight gain, which increases the risk of developing obesity-related health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
To help lower the amount of saturated fat and added sugar in your diet, eat more vegetables like broccoli, peppers and brussel sprouts, and leafy greens such as spinach and kale. Also, add more beans and lentils to your meals and try to eat whole grains at least three times per day. Examples of these include whole wheat flour, oats, barley, rye and amaranth. Try to limit your intake of foods that list trans fats on the label as these are harmful to your health.