Food is a basic need for life and the means by which most organisms obtain energy to grow, survive, and reproduce. Plants, algae, and some bacteria convert solar energy to food through photosynthesis, while animals obtain their food from other living things or by consuming organic matter.
Food can be found on the Earth’s surface or in the soil, as well as in the water and air. It is composed of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and minerals that are absorbed and used by the body for energy, growth, and maintenance.
Some foods are cultivated and processed using advanced techniques. Examples include rice, quinoa, wheat, and other grains; milk; meat and fish; beans; fruits, vegetables, and nuts; and dairy products such as cheese and yogurt.
People from different parts of the world have different diets that are influenced by local traditions and customs. Some, like the Jain, adhere to a strict vegetarian diet that excludes all forms of animal flesh. Other, like the Maasai in East Africa, consume milk and dairy products daily.
A person’s diet is an important part of their overall health and well-being. It should be nutritious, with a variety of foods from the five major food groups (cereals, dairy, meat and fish, vegetables, and fruit).
Most people should eat at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables per day. These serve as a source of fiber, vitamins, and simple carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for most of us and should be eaten at every meal. Some of the best sources of carbohydrate are quinoa, pasta, rice, wheat bread and potatoes. Legumes such as beans, lentils, and peas are also very good for a balanced diet.
Meat and fish are another essential source of protein in our diet. They provide a wide range of nutrients, including calcium, iron, and zinc, as well as fatty acids.
Dairy is another important source of protein. Some of the most common dairy products include milk, cheese, and butter.
The Maasai, a people of East Africa, eat milk every day and make yogurt from it. The Maasai’s diet is considered healthy and contributes to their strong immune system, which keeps them from getting sick.
In our modern age, junk food is a popular choice for many people and it should be avoided as much as possible. Junk food is high in sugar, sodium and trans fats which are unhealthy for the human body.
Portion sizes have ballooned in recent years. It is important to know how to measure portion sizes and to be aware of the total number of calories in a serving.
It is also important to choose foods in their most nutrient dense form as often as possible, avoiding added sugars and saturated fats. The USDA Food Patterns specify targets for each food group in cup equivalents and ounce equivalents, with a target of no more than 10 percent of total calories coming from added sugars and saturated fats.