To understand food nutrition, it is first important to know what it is. Food is any material consumed to give nutrition to an organisms. Food is generally of plant, animal, or microbial origin, and has necessary nutrients, including vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, sugars, or minerals. Plants receive light from the sun during daytime and absorb carbon dioxide from the air at night. Animals have teeth to chew on and need a source of water to survive. microbes are mobile living organisms that require an environment with oxygen for their growth.
In modern times, food has been enhanced with various additives, vitamins and hormones to increase its nutritional value. Hormonal and synthetic substances called synthetic vitamins and preservatives have become vital for humans. Over farming and specialization of animals has led to a depletion of many nutrients in our foods. Many of these food additives are synthetic in nature, meaning that they alter the characteristics of the food. Some examples are the artificial flavorings, colorings and saccharin in processed foods.
We eat food because we want to be healthy. Some foods are more important than others, some provide better energy, others help heal the body, and some have specific health benefits. A good diet includes a variety of foods and a balance of different nutrients. Animal products, especially meats, are the primary source of animal protein and should not be omitted from diets.
The fat content of a food usually affects its consumption and is a major concern when choosing food. The fat content of dairy products is less than meat; therefore, fats are not important. The fat content of dairy products usually has a minimum amount required to be included in the diet. The fat content of milk, cream and butter greatly affects the taste of dairy products and is a major consideration in dieting. Milk and its ingredients can be very high in fat, especially if it is pasteurized. The fat content of many dairy products are usually well below the minimum level required for optimal nutrition.
Fruits and vegetables are generally eaten as snacks between meals; therefore, they have low cost and are a good addition to any diet. Carrots, beans, peas, squash and beans are high in protein and therefore add value to the food in which they are eaten. Nuts, such as almonds and cashews, are eaten sparingly in dieting but provide good amounts of vitamins and minerals in their nuts.
When people are dieting, they sometimes forget to take care of their nutrition at home. This can lead to deficiency in some important nutrients, resulting in several complications during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Buying food from the supermarket or from a health food store is often not enough for a daily nutritional needs. This is when buying food from a health food shop comes into place. These shops offer a wide range of fresh foods with a large variety and are not subject to the same restrictions as regular food shops. Health food shops are also known for offering organic and free-range foods, which are still higher in nutrition than ordinary grocery shops.