Food is any material consumed for the purpose of providing nutrition to the organisms. Food is generally of animal, plant or floral origin, and contains necessary nutrients, including vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, and minerals. A wide variety of animals and plants are used for food, including cereals, pulses, vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains and beans. In modern times, food is prepared by heating or chilling procedures, either at home or in restaurants.
Today there are many different ways to prepare food, but our diets have remained mainly the same over the years. We still eat mostly cooked food, with about half of all foods being pureed, refined or processed (although many different methods of preparation have been developed). Common foodstuffs include breads, meats, stews, vegetables, fruits, breads and grains. The main ingredients in these foods are carbohydrates, protein and fat. The fat most frequently used in cooking (in sauces and oils) is coconut, palm kernel oil, butter, hydrogenated oils, shortening and many other vegetable fats.
Over the years, food has been domesticated for a number of reasons: to increase crop production, to improve hunting and farming methods, and to avoid animal disease. Early man had no way to make food for himself, so he obtained what he needed from Nature. Today, many different techniques have been developed to process food, making it easier to produce and store more of it in a more convenient way. With the development of supermarkets and mass marketing, food is no longer made only once; it is available in most stores around the world 24 hours a day.
Many of the ingredients used in making food can be found on the shelf in your local supermarket. However, the fat that is most often used is coconut oil, which is also most commonly used in cooking. Other commonly used fat sources include olive oil, liquid oils (such as soybean and cottonseed oil), and hydrogenated oils, which contain either Vitamin E or partially hydrogenated oils (beets and palm kernel oils). Refined and processed vegetable oils, as well as corn oil and fish and meat oils, are used as well.
While the main components in food are carbohydrates (which are found mainly in pasta and white bread), proteins (which are found in meats and poultry and some vegetables), vitamins (which are found in fruits and vegetables) and fat (which are mostly found in butter and shortening). Food additives can be found in some varieties of food as well, such as artificial flavors, colors, salt and sugar. Many preservatives, vitamins and minerals can be found in processed foods as well. It is important to read the food labels when purchasing groceries to be sure you are getting enough of everything!
Because we all need calories to survive, no matter what our ethnic backgrounds or dietary restrictions, it is imperative that we get enough food every day. The American Heart Association recommends that adults get about two servings of fresh fruits and vegetables every day, along with a small amount of grains and fats each day. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and grains helps prevent heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and other health problems.