Food is the material that all living things use for energy, growth, and the maintenance of body systems. Plants, algae, and some bacteria make their own food through photosynthesis; most animals obtain the material they need to survive by feeding on plants or other organisms. Animals also use their bodies to break down food, converting the nutrients into fuel or building new cells and tissues.
The foods that people eat vary widely across the globe, as do their cultures and traditions. Geographic factors play a role in this variation, but improved methods of food production and transport have made more types of food available.
Diets are also affected by the number of people in a region and their cultural attitudes toward food, including whether they believe it is good for them. Eating a healthy diet can help people avoid disease and stay at a healthy weight.
Choosing foods from a variety of food groups can ensure that people get the vitamins and minerals they need. The five major food groups are Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Protein Foods, and Dairy. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating a balanced, varied diet that includes all of these food groups.
The main dietary goals for adults are to maintain a healthy body weight and prevent chronic diseases. These goals are supported by a diet that is low in saturated fats and cholesterol, and high in fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins.
Meat, fish, and poultry are the most popular sources of protein in the world. They contain important vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. These proteins are used to build muscle, skin, and other tissue.
A balanced diet can also help you feel more satisfied after meals, which is important for weight control and avoiding overeating. Try to eat a wide range of foods, including lean meats, poultry, beans, nuts, and seeds.
Consuming a healthy, well-balanced diet is easy if you know what foods are good for you. It’s especially helpful to learn about what’s in the foods you eat, since manufacturers often hide large amounts of sugar and unhealthy fats in packaged food.
You can learn about these and other healthful ingredients by reading the labels on the foods you buy. The Nutrition Facts panel on the back of most packages will tell you what nutrients are in a serving of food.
Vegetables and fruits are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. These nutrients can help reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
They are also an important source of phytochemicals, which have been shown to help protect against cancer and other diseases. They also provide antioxidants, which fight aging and help the immune system function properly.
Fruits and vegetables are also a good source of fiber, which can help keep your digestive tract healthy. They can be eaten raw or cooked, and are an important part of many healthy eating plans.
When it comes to calorie intake, Americans can meet their recommended daily allowances by following the USDA Food Patterns, which specify the amounts of the different food groups that should be eaten each day in cup equivalents or ounce equivalents. These patterns also suggest a limited amount of added sugars and saturated fats, each of which should be less than 10 percent of total calorie intake.