The Nutritional Value of Food
Food is any material consumed by an organism to provide vital nutrition to its living organism for the growth and maintenance of life. Basically, food is of animal, plant or microbial origin, and includes vital nutrients, like proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals or other essentials. All living organisms require food to survive; starvation can cause death. Plants use food to reproduce, and all animals eat food to grow and sustain life.
A wide range of foods are available throughout the world, depending on what an individual needs for their daily activity. Animal foods are rich in fat and protein, whereas plant foods are rich in carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetables, which are rich in vitamins A, C and K, are considered to be the richest food source of these acids. Amino acids, which are precursors to proteins, are found in animal proteins; they are also abundant in plant foods. Some of the most important sources of amino acids include soy products, eggs, milk, fish, poultry and cow’s milk.
Animal-derived foods are high in cholesterol, saturated fat and trans fats. Meat and milk are considered to be excellent sources of dietary fiber. However, there are many tasty plant sources of fiber that are low in calories, yet high in nutrients. In fact, many of these plants contain antioxidants, which help prevent cancer, and are beneficial in other ways, as well.