In the study of human nutrition, food is defined as any material ingested to provide nutrition to an organism. Food is generally of animal, plant or fungi origin, and includes vital nutrients, like proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, or minerals, depending on the type of food. The nutritional content of food can be classified into five main categories, i.e., carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, fat, and minerals.
The first category, carbohydrates, refers to those substances that are found in plants, including starch, sugar, fiber, and vitamins. Some of the important sources of carbohydrates are vegetables and legumes, which are made up of complex carbohydrates, whereas simple carbohydrates are the ones that are derived from foods such as fruits, sugar, and salt. Milk products, eggs, meat, fish, poultry and nuts are good sources of protein. Animal products like meat, fish, milk and eggs are rich in vitamins A, B, C and E. Plants are also categorized into seven major groups, including greens (e.g., cabbage, spinach), fruits (e.g., melons, oranges), vegetables (e.g., carrots), legumes (e.g., beans), nuts (e.g., pecans, walnuts) and whole grains (e.g., wheat, oats). Each food type provides different levels of nutrition and contributes to optimal health.
Sugar is a main source of calories, and most people consume amounts of sugar every day. However, it is also true that excess amounts of sugar may have a negative effect on the body’s insulin system and can contribute to the development of certain types of cancers. While it is true that refined carbohydrates like white flour, rice, and pasta have high levels of sugar, it has been shown that consuming food like real food may help control blood sugar levels and may even lower the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. Replacing some of your daily sugar intake with more nutritious options may provide you with even greater health benefits.