Food is any substance that provides energy and nutrition to animals and plants. It is an important part of a healthy diet and keeps animals and humans alive. The four main types of food are fats, carbohydrates, proteins, and liquids. People consume foods for many reasons, including taste and nutrition. Some people also use food to make them feel happier or healthier. A balanced diet includes eating a variety of foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, lean meats, and dairy products. Foods should be low in added sugars, salt, saturated fats, and trans fats.
The history of food is a long and complex one. Humans began as hunters and gatherers, but as populations grew, farming developed. The Industrial Revolution led to advances in technology and transportation, which allowed food to be produced more quickly and transported over long distances. New methods of preserving food allowed it to be stored and sold in large quantities.
During this time, the field of food science was born. This discipline studies how to improve the safety, nutritional value, and appeal of food. Today, it is a multibillion-dollar industry that encompasses many different jobs, including food scientist, food technologist, and food engineer.
Eating well helps maintain a healthy weight, and reduces your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and other health conditions. It is important to have a varied diet, which is low in saturated and trans fats and contains plenty of fibre and nutrients. Try to include whole grains, low-fat dairy products (e.g. milk, yogurt), fresh and frozen fruit, lean meats, fish, nuts, seeds, eggs, low-fat ketchup, vegetable oils, and beverages (like water, unsweetened coffee or tea).
A healthy diet should contain the right proportions of each nutrient to meet your daily requirements. However, don’t be afraid to indulge occasionally! Foods like a well-deserved chocolate bar can provide the energy you need to get through the day, and can be enjoyed in moderation.
A good way to eat healthily on a budget is to cook at home. This will save money and allow you to control the amount of salt, sugar, and saturated fats that you eat. Experimenting with different recipes and using store-bought ready meals as a base for more nutritious ingredients can also help stretch your food dollars. For example, adding herbs to steamed vegetables can add flavor and color, while a quick panfry of frozen peppers or broccoli can provide a nutritional boost to stews and omelets. Remember that buying ‘fast food’ can often be more expensive than cooking at home, so it is worth shopping around for the best deals. Also, be sure to compare the price of ‘healthy’ options, such as muesli or wholemeal bread, against the cost of a limp burger and greasy chips. You may be surprised at how cheap healthy food can actually be. If you are unsure where to start, ask a dietitian for advice. They can teach you how to shop, plan meals, and cook healthier versions of your favorite comfort foods.