Food is the raw material that living organisms use for energy, growth, and maintenance. It is made from a combination of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. In addition, it can contain vitamins and minerals.
Humans have used different methods to obtain food, including hunting and gathering, horticulture, pastoralism, and agriculture. In addition to these traditional methods, people have developed new ways to grow food and develop methods of transporting and distributing it.
A healthy diet is a combination of foods that provide energy, vitamins and minerals, protein, and fibre. Some foods are better sources of nutrients than others.
The nutrients that can be found in the food you eat are: glucose for energy, protein and fat for the growth and repair of body tissues and cells, iron (especially in red meats and poultry) to prevent anaemia, zinc to keep healthy bones and immune system functioning properly, and B-group vitamins to maintain normal brain and nerve function and prevent fatigue.
Nutrients from different types of food have different absorption rates in the body. For example, iron from red meat and offal is absorbed very well, while iron from other milks, eggs and all plant foods is poorly absorbed. Vitamin C rich foods also increase the absorption of iron from these foods.
Fruit is the soft, edible, seed-bearing part of a perennial plant that grows for more than one growing season. It can be eaten fresh, frozen, canned or dried.
It can also be eaten in a variety of forms, such as sliced, diced, or mashed into a paste. It is often added to drinks, desserts and other meals for flavour and texture.
Generally, vegetables are good sources of a range of nutrients and can be a staple food in many countries. They are low in calories but high in a variety of vitamins, minerals and fibre.
They are particularly important for infants and young children, who need plenty of fibre to help them develop properly. In addition, they are a source of phytochemicals, which can be very beneficial to the health of children.
Vegetables are also a source of antioxidants, which can protect against the damage caused by free radicals in the body. These compounds help to prevent diseases, such as cancer and heart disease.
Some vegetable plants, such as radishes and onions, are also useful for their fungicide properties, which may help to fight against the spread of fungi. Other plants, such as carrots and tomatoes, are good for their vitamin A content.
Legumes and oilseeds are good sources of protein, some micronutrients and dietary fibre. They are also a good source of fat, especially omega-3 fatty acids.
Animals, such as cattle, pigs and sheep, are excellent sources of protein and some micronutrients, especially zinc. They are an essential component of the diet in many developing countries.
Meat, poultry and fish are rich in essential nutrients such as iron, zinc and B-group vitamins. They can also be a source of calcium, potassium and magnesium. They can be eaten alone or in combination with other foods to provide the right balance of nutrients.