The word food refers to any substance absorbed to our bodies to provide energy, sustenance, or other purposes. Foods are categorized into two broad categories: animal products and plant products. Plant foods include all edible parts of a plant, whereas animal products consist of meat, milk, eggs, organs, bones, horns, and so on. Animal products contain all the nutrition our bodies need to survive; plant foods are what we eat to obtain energy.
Plants contain carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, vitamins, and minerals in appropriate quantities. Carbohydrates are those made up of starch molecules, whereas proteins and lipids are fats. The proportion of these substances in a normal healthy diet depends on the type of food and the quantity consumed. Most plant foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates and therefore provide a balanced diet. Unfortunately, some animal sources contain excessive amounts of fats and cholesterol, which interfere with the absorption of other nutrients in the body.
Fats, especially saturated fats, contribute to the accumulation of cholesterol, which can clog arteries and increase the risk of heart disease. Vitamin D is synthesized by the body from fatty acids. Some fats are better than others, but they all contribute to a healthy diet. Trans-fatty acids (trans fats) that appear on packaged foods and fast food are often worse than unsaturated fats.
The good fats are those derived from plants, while bad fats are those derived from animal sources. Oils from plants contain omega 3 fatty acids, which are important for the development of the brain and spinal cord in children. Legumes, beans, nuts, and seeds are rich in protein and are great sources of zinc, which is an essential mineral that helps maintain the body’s cells. These foods may be low in calories and high in nutrients; however, they all provide small amounts of iron, which is necessary for energy production and cell division.
For a diet that is low in fats, the best choices are the unsaturated fatty acids found in fish, poultry, nuts, seeds, and vegetables. If you eat an assortment of lean meats, whole grain bread products, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole red palm oil, you will be well on your way to a healthier diet. You should experiment with several foods in a day to see what works for you. Remember that each person has individual body chemistry, so some foods may work well for one person, but not another.
Eggs are an excellent source of protein, which is needed to build muscle and bones. When combined with lean red meat and poultry breast or turkey breast, eggs are excellent in lowering the total amount of fat in the diet. In addition, egg yolks contain small amounts of calcium, which is important for strong bones. Cheese and milk provide many nutrients that help keep the body healthy and its immune system functioning properly. Milk products, especially low-fat or fat-free milk, are excellent for people watching their weight as well.