Understanding Nutrition – Food Types and Nutrients
The word food refers to any substance ingested to provide nutrition to an organisms. In its broadest sense food refers to anything that can be eaten; in this case food refers to both the dietary products we ingest and the nutrients they contain. Essentially food is composed of anything that is consumed, and is made up of the tissues, organs and fluids that compose the human body.
The three major food groups are carbohydrates, proteins and fat. Carbohydrates provide fuel for the body, with glucose being the most important form of carbohydrate, having high amounts of energy and allowing for immediate conversion into other substances such as energy, oxygen and carbon dioxide. Proteins are used for the body’s construction and growth, while fats are vital source of energy, heat and protection. Fruits and vegetables are a great source of carbohydrates and fibers, and can be combined with other food groups. Cereals are another excellent food group, as cereals are complex carbohydrates that provide the body with a steady supply of energy.
The five major food groups provide the bulk of the US population’s total food intake. In addition, there are many food categories that fall in each of the food groups, depending on how they are used. Some categories are essentially food substitutes for one or more of the other five food groups, which allows people to meet their daily needs without feeling like they are missing out on the other five. People can eat foods from all five food groups without being starved of nutrients.