Besides being a source of nutrition and energy for animals and humans, food plays a significant role in our lives. Our diets are strongly influenced by culture, geography and social constructs. Food science is an emerging discipline that focuses on food and its components.
The nutrient content of different foods is grouped into macronutrients and micronutrients. A variety of foods are good sources of micronutrients such as minerals and antioxidants. These antioxidants can remove potentially harmful chemicals.
Nutrients are essential for regulating vital processes in the body and are needed for the growth, repair and maintenance of body tissues. Diets containing too much of certain nutrients can lead to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis and scurvy. Diets that are too low in certain nutrients can lead to malnutrition and deficiency. In developing countries, malnutrition is a major problem.
Historically, humans secured food through hunting, gathering and agriculture. However, improved transportation and trade have made more types of food available to the population. In addition, improved methods of agriculture and better storage facilities can help improve the distribution and accessibility of food.
Food can be categorized into three basic categories: plant, animal and fungal. Plants and animals provide the bulk of food. Plants make their own food through photosynthesis. Animals, on the other hand, obtain food by feeding on plants. Animals are the largest source of food for humans, but humans also consume plants and other organisms.
Food processing is one of the largest manufacturing industries in the United States. Food processing companies make ready-to-eat foods, beverages, and other food products. This industry is responding to market demands for more refined products. In the United States, there are approximately 44,000 food processors. Other food manufacturers include canners, wineries and producers. The United States is the second largest food importer in the world. In 2005, the European Union was the top food importer.
People eat food for the sense of taste. The human palate has evolved over time. Certain tastes are more enjoyable than others. Depending on geography and culture, people may eat different foods from one country to another. For example, people in warm, wet lowlands rely on crops that retain water. They may eat more fish than people in a cooler, drier region.
There are many foods that have low concentrations of carcinogens. Some are highly nutritious, such as dairy products, while others are not. Foods are also a good source of protein and fat. Foods that are high in protein include beans and legumes. They provide dietary fiber and starch, which is necessary for energy. They are also good sources of vitamins and minerals. Dairy products are also rich in fats and essential vitamins.
Many people in developed countries eat too much of certain types of food. Diets that are too high in salt, refined sugars and fats are common. The diets of many people in developed countries also lack fruit. Eating a variety of foods is the best way to obtain all the nutrients needed for a healthy diet.