What Is Food?

Food is anything that can be eaten or drunk and used to supply energy, maintain life or promote growth. It is usually a solid but may be a liquid. It is generally nourishing and provides nutrition, such as protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, water and other substances essential for the maintenance of good health. The source of food may be plants or animals. People eat to fulfill physiological and psychological needs, to enjoy the sensations of taste and texture and to satisfy cultural or social needs.

In developed countries, there is a wide variety of foods available and malnutrition is not a problem for many. However, a diet high in sugar, salt and processed fats can lead to obesity, heart disease and other chronic diseases. Eating healthy requires a commitment to regular meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking. It also means paying attention to how foods are produced and selecting options that minimize environmental impacts.

The word food comes from the Latin “corpus alimentum”, meaning “body fuel”. Every cell in your body is made up of parts called proteins, carbohydrates and fats. The proteins provide building blocks for the cells and the carbs give them energy. The fats help produce hormones and to absorb other nutrients. Food is the primary source of these building blocks for your body. You can get them from a variety of sources including meats, dairy products, vegetables and fruits.

There are many types of food, but what really matters is a balanced diet that includes all of the food groups. The best choice is often a food that is minimally processed and contains a lot of vitamins, minerals and fiber. When purchasing groceries, look for organic, free-range or wild-caught varieties that have less sodium, added sugars and saturated fats.

Getting your daily servings of fruit and vegetables is important, as they contain vitamin C, folic acid, potassium, lycopene, vitamins A and K, and fiber. Aim for five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Choose brightly colored fruits and vegetables as they have more nutritional value than darker ones.

Vegetables are a rich source of dietary fiber and phytochemicals, which offer antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The main vegetable groups are green, leafy vegetables, root vegetables and tubers. Choose vegetables that are in season for the freshest selection and highest nutrient content.

Fish and shellfish are an important source of protein for humans worldwide. They are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and many other vitamins and minerals. Fresh fish can be eaten raw or cooked and can be preserved by freezing, canning, drying or smoking.

Poultry is a staple in the diets of most people around the world. Chicken, turkey and duck are raised for their meat as well as their eggs. Eggs are a good source of protein and can be easily prepared in a number of ways. Lean beef, pork and lamb are other common meat sources. Poultry and lamb are commonly raised in developing countries where they can be purchased at a reasonable price.