Why Is Variety In Food Important?
Variety in food ensures that we eat healthy food and find different options so as to maintain a balanced diet while not getting bored with eating. It also ensures that we get all the nutrients that our body requires to function properly. A single food item does not provide all the required nutrients, even within a particular food group such as fruits and vegetables, the variety of nutrients offered by each is diverse. For example, Spinach has high levels of folate whereas oranges are rich in Vitamin C. Variety also makes sure that we are not loaded with an excess of one nutrient which would be derived by eating a specific type of food item only.
What Are Nutrients?
Nutrients are food molecules essential for the growth and maintenance of the life of entities. Major nutrients in our food are carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals, vitamins, etc. These macro and micronutrients are essential in carrying out chemical reactions in our body aiding smooth digestion and hence growth. The food we consume must be rich in its nutritional value and low on unnecessary fats.
Types Of Food
There are five major food groups:
- Fruits – Provides phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and roughage and are easily available. They are directly obtained from plants.
- Vegetables – They are obtained from plants and are high in phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals which form important constituents of our food.
- Dairy products – An excellent source of calcium for our bones and teeth
- Poultry, lean meats, fish and eggs – High in proteins and vitamins which helps in building tissues and muscles and provides immunity.
- Cereal, legumes- Obtained from plants, rich in high fibres.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q.1. Name a disorder that can be caused in the body due to lack of iron.
Q.2. Can you suggest some food items that a person suffering from Vitamin A deficiency can include in his diet?
A.2. Milk, eggs, liver, fish liver oils. Fruits, green leafy and yellow/orange vegetables contain beta carotene which is converted by the body into Vitamin A and can be consumed.
Q.3. What is the difference between minerals and vitamins?
A.3. Minerals are inorganic and stick to their chemical structure whereas vitamins are organic in nature and can be disintegrated by air, acid or heat. Hence minerals present in water and soil can easily enter the body through the food we consume through plant and animal sources whereas vitamins found in food can be inactivated due to the storage, cooking, even light exposure to air can cause inactivation as they are weaker compounds.
Food Materials and Sources
Food is mainly obtained from plants and animals.
Food Materials Obtained From Plants
Green plants are the primary source of food. They provide us with food in the form of fruits, vegetables, cereals, pulses, nuts, oils, etc. Different parts of a plant that can be eaten raw or cooked are given below.
Edible Plant Materials and their Sources
- Carrot, radish, turnip and beetroot are the edible roots of the plants.
- Sugarcane, coriander, potato, and ginger are the edible stems of the plant.
- Spinach, cabbage, and curry leaves are edible leaves of the plant.
- Flowers of cauliflower and pumpkin are edible flowers.
- Mango, guava, apple, and pear, are some of the fruits obtained from the plants.
- Pulses, grains, and oilseeds are the edible seeds of the plant.
We also obtain flour from plants which are extensively used across the baking industry to bake cakes, pastries, bread, pasta, biscuits etc. Food materials obtained from plants are a rich source of vitamins and minerals. They also contain dietary fibres which add bulk to our food necessary for digestion.
Food Materials Obtained from Animals
Animals are another important source of food for us. The food products obtained from animals are rich in proteins and vitamins and other essential nutrients. Important staples like milk from cows, goats and buffaloes are processed and consumed every day. This milk is further used to make curd, cheese, butter, cottage cheese, clarified butter etc. Other important staples include chicken, fish, eggs and honey.
Edible Animal Materials and their Sources
- Milk is obtained from cows, buffaloes, goats and camels. This milk is rich in proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
- Birds like hens, ducks and turkey provide us with eggs that are highly rich in proteins.
- The flesh of animals known as meat is also consumed by humans.
- Fish, prawns and crabs are consumed in most of the coastal regions of the world.
- Honey bees convert the nectar of the flower into honey that is used as food.
- Paneer, cheese, cream and ghee are all made from milk obtained from cows and buffaloes.
Most of this food comes from farmed animals in a controlled environment to be devoid of any harmful substances.
Animals and their Food
Herbivorous animals obtain their food from plants. For eg., cows, buffaloes, goats, deer, etc.
Animals that eat other animals are called carnivores, these include tigers, lions, jackals, etc.
Some animals feed both on plants and animals. These are omnivores and include humans.
Organisms such as microbes (bacteria, fungi) feed on the decaying matter of animals and plants and are called decomposers. They are present in the air, water and soil.
Frequently Asked Questions on Food Materials And Sources
What are the products obtained from honey bees?
Honey bee provides honey, bees wax and royal jelly. The culturing of honey bees is known as apiculture.
Are insects a good source of food?
Insects are very good sources of protein. Insects like adult termites, grasshoppers and crickets are used as food.
Can microorganisms be consumed as food?
In single celled protein, the cells are consumed as food. The cells include microorganisms, algae and yeast.