Food Guide For the UK
Food is any material consumed to supply protein, energy and other nutrients to an organism living in a particular environment. It includes all organic material capable of supporting an organisms growth and development. Typical food is of animal, plant or fungi origin, and generally contains necessary nutrients, including vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, fat, or mineral ions. The diet of humans varies on the type of lifestyle they lead, their ability to absorb nutrients, their size and preferences for food.
Humans are omnivores, that is they eat both plants and animal matter. Animal products include meat, milk and eggs, which constitute the major components of their diet, while plant products consist of vegetables, cereals, fruits, seeds and nuts. A variety of foods from these three categories constitute the staple diet of most people, especially in the developed world.
The major groups of food include carbohydrates, starches and unsaturated fats. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for all living things. Most people consume three to five times more carbohydrates than they need daily. They are usually obtained from refined carbohydrates, which are made from sugar, wheat flour and processed bread. Refined sugar is the most widely consumed, and has increased steadily over the past century as the consumption of food enriched with cereal grains, pasta and potatoes has increased.
Unsaturated fats are found in fish, nuts, seeds and oil. Saturated fats are commonly found in butter, cold cuts, spreads and some meats. Oils may also contain saturated fats and some plant oils, but they are usually hydrogenated or treated oils. Fish oils, nuts, spreads and some nuts contain essential fatty acids, a type of fat that is necessary to human life.
The remaining part of the diet consists of various other components. Fibre is important for good health and should be included in the diet, although some people may not like the idea of having to eat a lot of fibre. There are foods that contain fibre, including oatmeal, pulses, and cereals. Some fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains all contain some fibre and can be used in combination with other elements to create balanced diets for the whole family.
Animal products such as milk, cheese and eggs are the most widely eaten sources of protein. Soya and whey proteins are also eaten, although you should avoid eating large quantities of meat, seafood and dairy products at the same time. Fruit and vegetables are sources of carbohydrates, minerals and fibre. Meats are eaten in limited quantities and can cause cholesterol problems.