Food is any substance consumed or absorbed by living things that provides energy and nutrition. It can be of animal or plant origin. Food is necessary for survival because it gives the body vitality and keeps the immune system functioning properly. Food provides a range of nutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and vitamins. It also helps regulate body temperature, metabolize and store fats and carbohydrates, form hormones, repair tissues, and produce energy.
The type of foods eaten by people varies greatly from one culture to another. It can also vary within a country depending on the season, geographical factors such as weather conditions and distance from water sources, and cultural influences. Modern technology, improved methods of agriculture and transportation, and globalization have made it possible to import a wide variety of food from distant regions and countries.
People can make healthy choices about the foods they eat by following an eating plan that includes a wide variety of foods from each of the main food groups. The eating plan should be low in salt, added sugars, and unhealthy fats, and it should be high in lean protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds.
In ancient times, people’s diets were highly dependent on the availability of different types of food and the seasons. For example, in winter, some foods were not available at all. In addition, hunting and gathering were a significant source of food for early humans. People also developed a more permanent food supply by cultivating crops and raising animals.
Food can be preserved by salting, drying, smoking, and canning. These techniques allow people to enjoy their favorite foods at any time of year. People can also eat unprocessed, or “natural”, foods such as raw vegetables and fruit, whole grains, and fatty fish. In contrast, processed foods are typically high in salt, sugar, and fats and low in nutritional value. Some examples of processed foods are packaged snacks, fast food, and pre-made baked goods.
The quality of a person’s health is closely related to the kinds of foods he or she consumes. Poor diet can lead to obesity, heart disease, cancer, and a host of other diseases. Conversely, a nutritious diet can contribute to good health, increase energy levels, and improve mental performance.
An eating plan that is based on healthy choices will include many fruits and vegetables, especially dark leafy greens, tomatoes, carrots, and peppers. It will also contain some legumes (beans and peas), nuts, and seeds. The plan should be free of saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium. It will be high in fiber, and it will include foods that are good sources of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc. It is also a good idea to add some seafood, such as fish, shellfish, or chicken, and some dairy products like yogurt, milk, and cheese. The diet should be limited in red meat and processed foods such as cookies, cakes, and candies.