Food is a substance consisting of nutrients like proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and other essential nutrients that a human body needs. There are different types of food, which we consume in our daily life.
This food is absorbed and utilized by the body, facilitated by digestion. Digestion of food plays a huge role because we eat food to give energy to our body. No proper digestion means no proper health and lack of energy.
The primary source of food plants, which prepare food by photosynthesis—followed by animals, who eat those plants and are themselves the source of food for other animals. In this way, it goes on the food chain, which sustains the ecosystem.
What we eat are different types of food, which is further categorized into different categories.
These categories are as follows:
- Grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds
- Meat and Poultry
- Fish and Seafood
- Dairy foods
We obtain food from various plants and animals. Animals, birds, seafood, and some plants provide protein which is the building block of cells. Apart from this, we consume milk and other dairy products. There is a various plant-based food which we consume almost every day.
For example: – peas, beans, pulses, nuts, and grains. Various grains are converted into flour to make pastries, cookies, bread, pasta, and many more food varieties. Fruits and vegetables are plant-based food.
Fruits and vegetables are a lot nutritious for us and play an essential role in many cuisines worldwide. Even stems and leaves of some plants are used in many dishes and are sometimes used raw.
This implies what people eat worldwide is composed of the same vegetables, plants, and animals. But changes are the method to use them.
Further, we will see in detail all the seven categories of food and see why they are important and how we get them.
Types of Food
Vegetables are the parts of plants that are consumed by human beings and animals. All the edible parts of plants are vegetables, including stems, leaves, flowers, fruits. Vegetables could be eaten raw or cooked depending on the type of food.
Vegetables are high in nutrition, vitamins, minerals, and fiber, being low in calories, fat, and carbohydrates. Research shows that when vegetables are included in the diet, there are fewer chances to get prone to diseases like cancer, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic ailments.
Vegetables are further divided into categories, depending on which part of the plant is consumed. These categories are as follows:
- Root vegetables
- Bulb vegetables
- Stem vegetables
- Leafy vegetables
- Podded vegetables
Root vegetables are underground vegetables that are mostly eaten by human beings. Carrots, onions, and potatoes are the most common among all the root plants. They are widely enjoyed as a healthy part of the diet. In some parts, “French fries” are one of the most popular foods.
Potatoes could be boiled, mashed, fried, or sautéed and could be used in varieties. Some other healthiest root plants include sweet potatoes, turnips, ginger, garlic, radish, fennel, carrot, turmeric. Combining root vegetables with other nutrient-rich foods in your diet helps you improve your health and could be extremely beneficial, from reducing oxidative stress to preventing chronic diseases.
Bulb vegetables are also used in various cuisines. The edible part of these plants is a bulb, i.e., the underground structures where the plant’s nutrients are stored. Onions, garlic, and shallots are grown from bulbs.
Other categories include leafy, stem vegetables. Leafy vegetables are green vegetables high in protein per calorie, dietary fiber, vitamin C, provitamin A carotenoids, manganese, folate, and vitamin K. Healthiest leafy vegetables include microgreens, spinach, cabbage, beet greens, turnip greens, swiss chard, kale.
Stem vegetables include bamboo shoots used extensively in Asian cooking. The edible part of many plants includes stems as well. Even such plants whose stems are eaten but not any other part, for example, celery. Other most common vegetable stems that we eat broccoli, bamboo, lettuce, garlic leeks, asparagus, cauliflower, green onions.
Greater intake of vegetables results in decreased risk of chronic diseases, diabetes, and lifestyle-related cancers. Vegetables contain water; therefore, they are essential for hydration and act as a fuel for the survival of good bacteria in our body. More intake of vegetables makes us happy and satisfied.
Fruits are one of the different types of food. They are the seed-bearing structures in flowering plants. Fruits form a substantial amount of the world’s total agricultural product. Fruits have now become an essential source of food. Fruits are a source of many essential nutrients and antioxidants.
Sufficient intake of fruits in the diet reduces the risk of many diseases. Eating a diet rich in fruit reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Potassium in fruits reduces the risk of developing kidney stones and helps to reduce bone loss. Developing a pattern where you include fruits in your diet provides antioxidants that help repair damage done by free radicals and protect against cancers.
Some of the healthiest fruits include grapefruit, pineapple, avocado, blueberries, apples, pomegranate, mango, strawberry, cranberry, lemon, durian, watermelon, olive, blackberry, orange, banana, red and purple grapes, guava, papaya, cherry.
Many fruits like mangoes, apples, kiwifruits, watermelons are eaten fresh like fruits and are also used commercially to make jams and another marmalade. Fruits are also used for making fruit juices, cakes, beverages, cookies, ice creams, flavored yogurts, and many more different types of food.
Different categories in which fruits are divided are as follows:
- Simple Fruits
- Aggregate Fruits
- Composite Fruits
Simple fruits further include fleshy fruits and dry fruits. Fleshy fruits are those in which part or all the fruit wall is fleshy at maturity. Fleshy fruits include avocado, plum, banana, apple, cherry. On the other hand, dry fruits include wheat, coconut, peanut, nuts.
A simple fruit develops from a single ovary, and an aggregate fruit develops from the merger of several ovaries separated in a single flower. The fruit of Aquilegia is one of the examples. It develops from several ovaries of one flower and is an aggregate of follicles.
Composite or multiple fruits are the fruits that are formed by the fruiting bodies of the same inflorescence. It is further of two types, i.e., sorosis and syconus—for example, pineapple and Ficus carica.
3. Grains, Legumes, Nuts, and Seeds
Grains have played a significant role in providing nutrients to human beings and are even used to feed animals. They are further processed to make different types of food and support various cuisines. Commonly used grains include corn, rice, wheat, oats, millets, barley, and many more. Grains are processed to make bread, pizzas, buns, pasta, tortillas, cookies, pastries, and several others.
Further, grains are also of two types depending on what they contain. The whole grain consists of Bran, Germ, and endosperm, while on the other hand, the refined grain contains the only endosperm, removing bran and germ. Including whole grains in the diet reduces obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart diseases and improves bowel health. Whole grains include protein, fiber, vitamin B, antioxidants, and trace minerals.
Legumes are plants that produce a pod with seeds inside. Many people ignore or avoid legumes from their diet, but legumes are more nutritious than one can think of. Common legumes consist of lentils, peas, beans, peanuts, and soybeans.
Legumes are the best plant-based source of protein. They offer vitamin B1, B3, B5, and B6. And they are a good source of zinc, copper, manganese, and phosphorus. Intake of legumes helps reduce cholesterol from the body, blood pressure and help increase good bacteria in the body.
In layman’s terms, nuts are simply the seeds of plants or dry fruits. They are the food source of protein, healthy fats, fibers, vitamins, and minerals. Nuts are believed to provide nutrients to the body.
Consumption of nuts and seeds does not cause weight gain and protects against various life-taking diseases. Nuts are free of dietary cholesterol and high in dietary fiber. These could easily be added to the diet in salads and could even be added to yogurt and smoothies. The healthiest nuts and seeds include flax seeds, China seeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds.
4. Meat and Poultry
Among different types of food, meat and poultry are the food which all the people do not accept. But these are a high source of proteins, which is the primary source of growth and development of the human body.
Meat and poultry also contain other nutrients required for the body, such as iodine, iron, zinc, vitamin B 12, and essential fatty acids. Iodine in meat and poultry food helps our body to produce thyroid hormone.
Iron carries oxygen around the body, zinc keeps the immune system strong, skin healthy, and maintains reproductive health. Vitamin B 12 is right for the nervous system, and omega 3 keeps the heart-healthy.
Animals such as pigs, chickens, cows, and lambs are raised specially for meat. Meat cannot be eaten raw and is cooked, minced, cut into pieces, sliced, or roasted. Some popular meat choices include pork, hamburgers, meatballs, and sausages. Pork is much cheaper than most other meats. Hamburger consists of cooked patties made of meat, usually beef. Hamburgers came into known from Germany.
Similar are the sausages made from ground meat, often pork, beef, or poultry. They provide high levels of vitamin B 12 and iron, both of which are essential for hemoglobin production. Though meat is healthy for the human body, it must not be consumed more than three times a week.
5. Fish and Seafood
Fish and seafood is another food category, which includes many kinds of fish and shellfish, and other sea creatures. Other sea creatures include lobsters, crabs, crayfish, prawns, and shrimp. Fish and seafood are essential sources of protein. Fishes or seafood are usually procured by fishing or hunting, and sometimes people cultivate seafood known as aquaculture or fish farming.
Human beings use fish and seafood for their consumption and as well as for other animals and plants. It is used to rear farm animals and is also used for plants in the form of fertilizers. A small proportion of seafood is also used to make medicines and other products—for example, spirulina tablets and fish oil.
Distinct fish culture is noticed in countries that have coastal regions. For example: in Mediterranean countries. In Asian countries, fish is much more eaten than meat. For example, in Cantonese cuisine, Chinese cuisine, Thai cuisine.
6. Dairy Products
Dairy products or milk products are one of the different types of food. Dairy products or milk products, as the name suggests, are prepared from the milk of mammals. Milk-producing mammals include cattle, buffaloes, goats, sheep, and camels.
Dairy products are produced almost everywhere globally, except in some parts of Asia and parts of central Africa. Milk, yogurt, butter, cheese, ice cream is some of the dairy products.
Milk is produced in several grades in various forms of fats. Skim milk is the milk with zero fat, and on the other hand, whole milk is the one with fat. Scalded milk, condensed milk, evaporated milk, baked milk, Malia, powdered milk, khoa, infant formula, whey, buttermilk, milk skin are various forms of milk made by its further processing.
Consumption of dairy products has many health benefits, much more than we can think of. Having milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, and other dairy products proves to be beneficial for heart health, healthy bones and teeth, and maintaining a healthy weight.
When consumed in adequate amounts, they maintain a balance of microbiota. Despite having many health benefits, dairy products must be consumed within a limit or with care because dairy products might cause problems for people with milk allergies.
People with lactose intolerance must avoid milk products as it may cause many severe problems like bloating, gas, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and a lot more. Excessive consumption of dairy products can increase the risk of heart diseases and can cause weight gain. It could also be a significant reason for cholesterol, which further increases heart problems.
Dairy products and eggs are considered one category as food because they are both the products of animals and have high protein content. But this is an entirely wrong perception.
Dairy products are made from milk, while eggs are hatched from birds. Eggs have versatile uses. They are used while preparing many vivid types of food. They are used in baking, quiches, and omelets.
They could be consumed raw, cooked, boiled, poached, or even fried. They are one of the most nutritious foods, which should even be called a superfood. Eating eggs increase high-density lipoprotein, i.e., the good cholesterol in the body.
As a result, a person becomes less prone to the risk of heart diseases. Choline, an essential nutrient which most people are not getting, is present in eggs. It is among the best dietary sources of choline. Also, eggs contain the building blocks of the human body, i.e., proteins.
Eating enough eggs, a person gets proteins and all essential amino acids. Consumption of proteins balances bone health, increases muscle mass, lowers blood pressure, and balances the body weight.