What are the purposes of food? Food is any substance eaten to supply nutrition to an organism. More specifically, food is generally of animal, plant or even fungi origin, and includes essential nutrients, including vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, sugars, or minerals. Plants get their food from the Sun, air and water. Animals get food from plant leaves, stems, and seeds. Fungi get food from moulds, dead leaves, mushrooms and other fungi.
How is food made? The process of food production includes several stages, beginning with the extraction of the ingredients and ending with the transportation of the food from the farm to the retail shop. During the extraction process, solid material is removed, and volatile material is also removed, such as salt, sugar, fats, flavourings, medications, pesticides, and particles of shellfish shells. The food items are then washed and cleaned, dried, pealed, turned, stewed or fried. Some foods are flavored with added ingredients while others have no additional ingredients at all.
Plants and animals each have different requirements for food, but each nutrient is equally important for all. Vegetables, for example, are good sources of carbohydrates (mainly starch), but poor sources of protein (mainly amino acids). Protein is absolutely essential in animal nutrition, as it is the main building block of the body, but plant food does not contain adequate amounts of protein. Similarly, carbohydrates are needed by the body for energy, but they too are found in relatively small quantities in most vegetables.
The two types of carbohydrates that are most frequently included in foods are namely starches and fiber. Starches are a type of simple organic sugar found in many common foods. They are usually used as precursors in the chemical reactions that form food products, such as in making bread, pasta, rice and potato chips. Fiber, on the other hand, is a type of soluble fiber that is found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. It facilitates the easy movement of food through the digestive tract, as it absorbs water and other nutrients in the food that would otherwise pass right through without being absorbed.
A number of factors influence the bioavailability of nutrients in food. These include the physical properties of the food, its processing methods, the proportions and quantities of various ingredients used and their location in the food. Processing methods, for example, affect how easily nutrients in food are digested and absorbed. A good example of this is the use of vegetable oil in cooking. Food items such as potatoes, carrots, eggplant and sweet potatoes all contain vegetable oil, which means that any vegetable oil that you buy should be of the highest quality possible, as this will ensure a balanced diet. Likewise, when oils such as coconut oil and safflower oil are used instead of these more expensive alternatives, bioavailability is affected as well.
The next step to take when choosing and preparing food is to pay attention to nutrition labels. The nutrition content of food can be determined by reading the label on the pack, as well as looking at the calories and nutrients listed there. Common nutrients include protein, carbohydrates, fat, fiber, vitamins and minerals, with each nutrient being described in detail. These nutritional content details can help you choose healthy recipes that are easy to prepare and delicious too. Just remember to eat your fruits and vegetables first!