Food, Its Nutrient Content and Its Importance For Our Daily Needs
Food is any material consumed to supply nutrition to an organisms. Food is generally of animal, plant or bacterial origin, and normally has necessary nutrients, including vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, and minerals. The process of digestion transforms the food materials into energy useful to the body and to sustain life. The nutritional value of food can be measured in calories, which is a measure of calories required for maintaining the body’s physical activities.
There are four food nutrients required by the human body: protein, carbohydrate, fat, and mineral salts. The food components that constitute the different nutrients may be divided into vegetable and animal sources according to their quality and quantity. Vegetable sources of protein are protein rich vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes, while animal sources are milk, eggs, poultry, fish, meats and fowl. Plants contain various types of carbohydrates, which are found in cereals, whole-grain breads, pasta, potatoes and various fruits. Animal products contain mineral salts such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, sulphur, phosphorus, zinc, manganese and selenium.
The amount of food intake required by an individual, taking into consideration his activity levels and physical condition, depends on the nutrient composition of his diet. Some food needs of women are similar to men’s, while some are more than the requirements of men. Some food needs of infants and children are almost the same as those of adults.