Food is a substance eaten by people and animals to provide energy and nutrition. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, water and oxygen. The human body requires a wide variety of foods to maintain good health and well-being.
The modern world has seen a significant change in how people obtain and consume food. The 20th century saw an increase in the use of preservatives and other additives to extend the shelf life of foods, as well as changes in the types of food that were available. For example, the use of frozen or canned vegetables has allowed people to eat these nutritious foods when fresh produce is not available.
People who eat a varied diet tend to be healthier than those who rely on fast food and processed foods for the bulk of their meals. A diet of primarily fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds provides important vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber. It also helps lower the risk of heart disease, cancer and other chronic illnesses.
It is important to choose foods that are low in salt, sugar and unhealthy fats. A wide variety of healthy foods are available, including lean meats, fish, eggs, whole grains and dairy products. These can be prepared in many different ways, making it easy to find a tasty meal that is also healthy.
The quality of the food people eat can have a big impact on their mental and emotional health. Studies show that eating nutritionally dense foods encourages the growth of “good” bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, which then send positive messages to the brain. This results in a happier and more positive mood.
Food scientists study how to create new foods and how to improve existing ones. They develop new flavors and textures, as well as finding ways to make processed foods healthier. For example, they might test whether adding a chemical compound to tomatoes increases their lycopene content, which could help prevent cancer.
Most people rely on some form of processed food to provide the nutrients they need. However, it is important to understand the difference between processed and unprocessed foods, and how the type of processing a food undergoes can affect its nutritional value. For example, frozen vegetables are often more nutritious than those that are canned, as they retain most of their original nutrients. It is also important to read the Nutrition Facts label and ingredients list on food packaging.