The word food brings to mind the preparation of food for the consumption of humans and animals. Food is any material taken from the earth to supply nutrition to an organism. Food is generally of animal, plant or fungi origin, and comprises necessary nutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, or iron.
Many kinds of food are available in nature, including all the types of food animals eat, as well as the vegetable products derived from plants. The human body uses a variety of sources to obtain nourishment from food, which includes fat, protein, carbohydrates and vitamin E.
Although plants only use a part of the energy required for development and growth, the plants also offer many essential elements. It is a complex system that regulates the functioning of all the systems and organ systems and is considered one of the most important organs in the body.
Plants contain a wide range of nutritive substances, including carbohydrates, fat, protein, minerals and vitamins, that are necessary to supply energy to the body and regulate its functions. The major categories of food are carbohydrates or “empty” carbohydrates; fat which is termed as “essential”, i.e. it is needed by the body for the creation of energy, and minerals that are required in large quantities for the general nourishment of the body.
You may see food categorized in terms of calorie, nutrient or volume; the term calorie refers to the amount of energy required to do a particular job, such as digesting; the nutrient refers to that chemical or compound that is necessary for nutrition, and the volume describes the amount of food that will be consumed.
Carbohydrates are easily digested by the body and used as energy;
They are simple sugars. Simple sugars break down into two molecules, which can easily be absorbed by the body and used as food. Milk products, for example, are a source of simple sugars. Some other carbohydrates are fruits, vegetables, whole-grain bread, rice, potatoes, peas, mushrooms, nuts, cereals, pasta and other grains.
The importance of carbohydrates is that they provide the bulk of nutrients needed by the body. Most people consume carbohydrate-rich foods such as bread, potatoes, rice, cereals, pasta, oatmeal and meats. To maintain a healthy weight, it is important to choose carbohydrate-rich foods wisely. Simple sugars and refined carbohydrates give no nutritional value.
Fats are made up of simpler compounds
Fats are essential in order to maintain the body’s health and energy level. The good news is that there is a wide range of dietary fibre available. Food that contains dietary fibre helps to slow down the absorption of sugar in the intestines, and they are used by the body to create energy and protect the cells against damage caused by free radicals. Whole-grain foods, for example, are rich in dietary fibre.
In addition to food varieties that help the body grow, there are foods that protect and defend the body from illness and disease. Some of these nutrients are found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Vitamin E and beta carotene, which can be found in carrots, squash, cantaloupe and sweet potatoes are antioxidants, which can protect the body against infections and diseases.
Fruits, vegetables and whole-grain foods are also rich in protein, which is essential for building and repairing the body.
The challenge is to eat enough vitamin and mineral-rich food so that we do not become deficient in any of the nutrients our bodies need. Most Americans are overweight or obese, and they get the disease called a chronic disease because their body is unable to process the fats that lead to heart disease and other illnesses.
An over-processed diet, junk food, soft drinks, fast foods and processed meats, contribute to poor nutrition and poor health, leading to high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and other health disorders.
You can use fats to cook food and oils to dress it up but you have to be careful how you use them. Olive oil is a good example, as its high saturated fats can raise cholesterol and blood pressure. Instead, use virgin olive oil, sunflower oil or safflower oil.
There are plenty of healthy oils that come from plants, herbs and nuts. Nuts such as almonds, cashews, walnuts and peanuts contain fatty acids that protect the body against cardiovascular diseases, cancer and other health problems.