In the human diet, food refers to all food that can be eaten by man. Food is generally of animal, plant or fungi origin, and consists of necessary nutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, or other minerals. In humans, food plays a major role in the life process by enabling man to live and help his fellow beings. It is a fact that food habits are influenced by social, cultural and economic factors. In addition to these environmental factors, certain types of food tend to be more favored than others.
Food that is rich in calories and fat and with relatively high salt and sugar content tends to be preferred more highly than others. This type of food is termed fattening food. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals and can be used as a food source. Milk, eggs and meat are also examples of fattening food, while whole grains and beans are ideal food sources containing vital nutrients in moderate quantities.
The term glycemic index tells what the food contains after being digested. Foods with a high glycemic index (GI) release energy very quickly from the stomach as blood sugar levels rise. Common foods having a high GI include refined sugars, white rice and white breads, potatoes, pasta and baked potatoes, white rice cakes and snacks like candy bars with sugar. The higher the GI, the greater is the amount of glucose released into the bloodstream.
All forms of food, regardless of their nutritional value, have to be part of a balanced diet. The food may be eaten as food, cooked or as supplements. It is important to choose food according to the recommended daily allowance (DA allowance). For example, a diet low in fat should contain no more than ten percent of the total calories consumed. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables may have a lower fat content, but may also be supplemented with fat-free or low fat dairy products, fats obtained from poultry and fish and other food items that are fat-free or low in carbohydrate.
It is also important to eat a variety of foods and not stick to the same kinds of food over again, especially in a bid to lose weight and maintain good health. It is important to try out new food combinations every now and then. It may even be a good idea to change the kinds of food you eat on a regular basis to help prevent sudden spikes in bad health that may occur due to unbalanced nutrition. It may be a good idea to join a nutrition group that helps you plan your food choices and share ideas about good nutrition.
Many people are satisfied with what they know about real food. They simply want to do away with the extras, like the chemicals, added sugar and salt, which are often used in processing food. But they need to make sure that they are not cutting out real food that contains all the nutrients that they need, like calcium, iron, protein and fiber. It would be a shame if they did so at the cost of losing real food that is good for them. So give some thought to how you cook and shop and you’ll soon have a better understanding of healthy eating.