Food is the material that sustains human life and growth, providing energy and nutrients. It is of animal or plant origin and contains protein, carbohydrates, fats, and minerals.
Hunting and gathering, horticulture, pastoralism, and the development of agriculture have been major means by which humans have adapted to their environments in order to feed themselves. These practices have served as carriers of culture in the world’s history and as driving forces for globalization.
Today, the food system is a complex social and political entity that has significant impacts on a number of other social issues. It has an impact on food security, agricultural productivity, water supply and quality, health, economics, and environment.
The human diet has also been an important factor in the spread of civilizations throughout the world. For example, the corn (maize) crop first cultivated in Europe spread across the continent to Africa and Asia. It also became a food staple in the United States.
People in developing countries are often too poor to grow or buy the food they need, and crisis situations such as droughts and floods can lead to famine. In addition, a growing population and the resulting pressure on resources causes a rapid decline in food production.
There are many different kinds of foods, each providing a unique combination of nutrients. These include fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy products, grains, and beverages. They are grouped into various dietary guidelines and nutrition plans that recommend the amounts of specific nutrients that men and women at each stage of their lives should consume on a daily basis.
Meats, poultry, fish, beans and peas, nuts, seeds, and eggs are the primary sources of protein in the human diet. These foods should make up about one-quarter of the food on your plate. They are important sources of iron, thiamine and other vitamins and minerals.
Vegetables are another important source of protein in the diet, along with fruits and grains. They come in a variety of colors, shapes, and textures, and contain vitamins and minerals as well as fiber. Dark greens such as broccoli, spinach and kale are the best choices, but other dark-green vegetables such as collard greens, acorn squash, carrots, red cabbage wedges, and yellow squash are excellent sources of nutrients as well.
Starchy vegetables, such as corn, peas, and potatoes, are also an important source of carbohydrates. These foods provide the body with energy and can help you feel fuller longer.
Dairy products, including milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt and butter, are another important source of proteins, fats and calcium. They are also a good source of vitamins B6 and riboflavin, as well as potassium, vitamin D, and phosphorus.
Grains, such as wheat, rye, rice, oats, barley, and cornmeal, are another essential part of the human diet. They are a great source of fiber and should be eaten in moderate quantities each day.
Bread and pasta, breakfast cereals, grits, tortillas, and popcorn are all examples of grain foods that should be eaten in moderation. These foods can be high in saturated fat and added sugar. It is a good idea to read food labels and look for healthier alternatives.