The word food actually has two different meanings, the first one being a food preparation made by combining ingredients in a specific way so that the resultant food is nutritious and delicious. The other meaning refers to the process of collecting plant material and nourishing it so that it can be consumed. This food is then used for the sustenance of man’s body. A wide variety of animals to make use of food, but man has not and will not.
Basically, food is any material consumed to give nutrition to an organism through digestion. Food is generally of animal, plant or fungi origin, and has all the essential nutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals or fats. The major food ingredients are protein, fat, minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, fat, and milk. These nutrients are necessary for the growth of organisms. Food additives, on the other hand, are substances added to food to make it nutritious and tasty, but do not alter its essential nature.
One of the most important nutrients found in food is fat. Fats are mostly produced by animals and used for cooking, although they can also be derived from plants or even the human body itself. Animals produce both saturated and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats, found in certain nuts and margarine, are usually responsible for high cholesterol levels.
Trans fatty acids, which are found in fatty foods such as butter and some fish, tend to be responsible for high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. While saturated fatty acids are found in foods rich in fiber, including nuts, seeds, whole grains, and vegetables, unsaturated fatty acids are found only in foods high in hydrogenated oils, butter and mayonnaise. The lack of unsaturated fatty acids in many foods results in a diet low in essential nutrients.
There has been much research lately on the connection between eating a balanced diet of healthy foods rich in nutrients and a decrease in chronic disease and heart disease. The most recent research has focused on the role of essential fatty acids, particularly the omega-3 fatty acids, in preventing cardiovascular disease. Most nutritionists agree that maintaining a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, nuts, olives, flax seeds, and fish oil, is the best way to reduce the risk of heart disease, especially heart disease with a trans fat content. These oils seem to help reduce blood triglycerides, reduce plaque buildup in arteries and promote healthy blood flow through the entire cardiovascular system.
However, this doesn’t mean that all food sources contain trans fatty acids, only those that are heavily processed and contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Unprocessed foods can also contain these fatty acids, but at very low levels. Trans fatty acids seem to play a particular role in lowering good cholesterol levels, but their link with heart disease and total energy levels has not been established. In other words, while eating healthy is important, you don’t need to overindulge in processed foods in order to maintain good health.