What is food? Simply put food is any material consumed to give nutrition to an organisms. Food is generally of animal, plant or even fungal source, and often contains vital nutrients, like proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates, or minerals. The human body can survive on food alone; however many other animals and plants also need food to live.
Animal food is food that derives from the bones, organs, hooves or teeth of animals. Plant food is food that derives from plants – leaves, stems, fruits, roots or tubers. Fruits and vegetables are examples of plant food.
Animal food is rich in protein and dietary fiber and provides the necessary nutrients for daily living. Plants, on the other hand, are poor in protein and have very little in the way of dietary fibers. Protein is found in meats, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, soy products and nuts. Fats, on the other hand, come from fats produced by plants like peanut oil or safflower oils. Fats also provide a good source of energy for the body.
The most common types of food are carbohydrates and fat. Most carbohydrates are found in fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans) and whole grains. Some dietary fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, grains and potatoes. A healthy diet will include foods that contain the following beneficial carbohydrates: whole grain bread, pasta, rice, cereals, beans, potatoes, sugar, whole-grain bread and pasta.
Essential amino acids are important building blocks of protein. Protein is necessary for building muscle tissue as well as to maintain a healthy immune system. The three basic food groups are meat, poultry, fish and vegetables. Animal proteins tend to be richer in both fats and essential amino acids while plant proteins tend to be rich in amino acids but not fat. Some plant foods, including broccoli, soybeans, beans, nuts, eggs and lentils are considered to be incomplete proteins.
There are a variety of methods used to improve the absorption of nutrients in food. For example, some foods reduce the absorption of fats by coating the surface of the food with fat. Foods with vitamin E can also enhance fat absorption. Foods that contain antioxidants can absorb nutrients more readily than do foods that are free of antioxidants. In addition, certain foods can increase the rate at which nutrients are broken down in the intestines so that they are more readily absorbed into the bloodstream.