Food is the material that organisms use to sustain their growth and vital processes, to provide energy for life, and to maintain and support the body’s health. Plants, algae and bacteria make their own food by converting solar energy to chemical compounds through photosynthesis, while animals obtain their food through feeding on plants or other organisms.
People have used a variety of methods to feed themselves since early human times, including hunting and gathering, horticulture, pastoralism and agriculture. Today, improved agricultural techniques, transportation and storage facilities make a wider range of foods available to more people.
The food that people eat is an important part of their culture and heritage. It can vary widely from one country to the next and within a single country. Geographic factors can contribute to this difference, as do traditions and customs.
Dietary differences can also be attributed to climate, which affects the growth and maturation of different crops. For example, people living in cool regions with short growing seasons might rely on crops that mature quickly such as potatoes, while those in warm, wet lowlands often eat rice or other types of wheat as staples.
Meat, poultry and fish are good sources of protein and essential vitamins and minerals. The meat and offal of these animals is rich in iron (especially red meat and red offal), zinc, and many B-group vitamins.
Vegetables are another important source of nutrients. They come in a variety of colors, flavors, and textures and contain vitamins and minerals, carbohydrates, and fiber. They are a key source of antioxidants, which help to protect the cells from damaging free radicals.
Grains are a key source of carbohydrates, which the body uses as fuel for energy. They are found in bread, pasta, breakfast cereals and grits, tortillas, popcorn and many other food products.
A wide variety of grains are important parts of a healthy diet, although some varieties can be high in saturated fat or added sugar. Read labels to find grain choices that are lower in these qualities.
Grain products are a great source of fibre, a substance that helps the digestive system work more efficiently and keeps you fuller longer. They can also be a good source of protein, a nutrient that helps the body build strong muscle tissue and bones.
Vegetables, fruits and milk are also a good source of calcium. Vitamin C, found in most fresh fruit and vegetables, increases the absorption of this nutrient.
The amount of fruit and vegetables you eat is an important factor in maintaining your health. Eating plenty of these foods is linked to a reduced risk of chronic disease, such as heart disease and stroke.
You should eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables per day to stay healthy. Look for food products that are low in saturated fat and high in fiber, such as wholegrains and oats.
A nutritious diet is necessary for everyone to live a long and healthy life. It also helps people avoid diseases and maintain a healthy weight.