Food is any nutrient-rich substance consumed or absorbed by living organisms for the purpose of nutrition, growth, and reproduction. The most common sources of food are animals and plants. Humans obtain most of their food from agriculture and hunting and gathering.
The nutritional value of foods varies considerably, with some foods being more nutritious than others. The best source of nutrients is a balanced diet of a wide variety of foods. This is especially important for people who have a medical condition, because their dietary requirements may be different from those of the general population.
A healthy diet should include plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. It should also contain few refined (processed) ingredients and added sugars. People who are overweight should limit their intake of high-fat and sodium foods.
Most people can eat a wider variety of healthy foods than they currently do. They should also try to eat more fresh foods, and choose unprocessed or minimally processed foods as much as possible.
For example, if you’re eating out, try to avoid fried foods and go for baked or broiled instead. If you’re eating at home, use smaller plates and bowls to help control portion sizes. If you’re adding sauces or gravies, ask for them on the side so you can control how much you consume.
Eating a balanced diet can help you stay at a healthy weight and have more energy. It’s important to avoid processed or fast foods, which are often high in salt and added sugars. It’s also a good idea to choose lean protein and whole grains over red meat, which can be high in fat and cholesterol.
People who are ill should consult a doctor before making major changes to their diet. They should also limit their intake of foods that are high in fat, salt, or sugar, and avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks.
A person’s culture and traditions also influence the types of food they eat. For example, a person who lives in England might enjoy roast beef and Yorkshire pudding for a special meal. Immigrants bring their own recipes and cooking techniques to new places, influencing the cuisine of those regions. For example, chicken tikka masala is a dish that originated in Glasgow, Scotland. Improved methods of food processing, preservation, storage, and shipping allow people to enjoy foods that are produced far from their homes. This includes Spanish olive oil, French cheeses, and sardines from Norway.