Food is a substance that people eat to sustain their growth and vital processes and to furnish energy. It is primarily composed of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and other nutrients. The primary source of food is plants, which convert solar energy into food through photosynthesis. Animals that feed on plants provide another source of food. Food is usually ingested, or digested, in the stomach and intestines. A person can get most of the nutrients needed for good health from a variety of healthy foods.
A diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein provides the body with many important vitamins and minerals. Eating a variety of healthy foods can also help control weight and improve mood.
The quality of food available to a person can vary widely, depending on where he or she lives. Foods that are grown or prepared locally are usually fresher and healthier than those that travel long distances. Improved methods of storage, refrigeration, and transportation make it possible for people to enjoy foods that are produced far from their homes.
Vegetables and fruits are excellent sources of nutrients, especially vitamin C. They can be eaten raw or cooked, and may be canned, frozen, dried, smoked, or pickled for preservation. Fresh vegetables are generally less expensive than canned or frozen ones. To ensure that they are fresh, a person should look for the label “fresh” or “canned with water” and avoid those with added salt, sugar, and oils.
Fruits are low in calories and rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They can be fresh, frozen, dried, or canned and are a great source of energy. They also supply the body with essential fatty acids, which are important for cell membranes and other protective tissues.
Fats provide more than double the amount of energy that carbohydrates provide, and are used to protect and insulate the body’s internal organs. They are found in meat, dairy products, vegetable oils, and some plants. People should eat foods that are low in saturated fats, trans-fats, and cholesterol.
Meat is a major source of protein for many people worldwide. Lamb, or meat from young sheep, is a staple in countries such as the Middle East and Australia. Mutton, or meat from older sheep, is also popular. People eat domesticated animals such as cattle, pigs, and poultry, and wild animals such as rabbits and deer, for meat.
A diet containing a lot of fast food can be high in calories, fats, and unhealthy sugars. A person should try to limit the amount of fast food he or she eats. To make meals more interesting, a person should add herbs and spices to his or her cooking. He or she should also cook vegetables and use low-sodium and no-added-sugar canned foods. Foods that are acidic, such as lemon juice or vinegar, can improve the flavor of bland foods.