Food is any material eaten to provide nutrition to an organism for its normal growth. The term food may be defined as whole foods or in specific ways, such as vegetables, fruits, and cooked or processed forms of food. Generally speaking, food is generally of animal, plant or microbial origin, and includes vital nutrients, including proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates, and minerals. The human body requires a wide range of different types of food from eight to thirty different kinds per day to maintain health and well-being. Although most of the food we eat is plant based, there are some plant foods that are considered unhealthy or even poisonous. Some examples of this include high fructose corn syrup found in soft drinks, coffee, tea, chocolate, cookies, candy bars, chocolate desserts, instant soup mixes, margarine, fried foods, processed meats, snacks, peanuts, grapes, raisins, jams, pickles, hot dogs, some fish, dairy products, peanuts, chocolate milk, white rice, potatoes, spicy foods, wheat germs, artificial sweeteners, jams, mustard, peanut butter, mayonnaise, condiments, cured and smoked meats, certain spices, and canned goods.
A balanced diet consists of all the food groups at appropriate portions so that the body receives the proper amount of all nutrients necessary. Meals are usually separated into food groups according to how they are served, what they’re used for, and their purpose. Meals can be classified as primary or secondary food groups. For example, meat is a primary food group that is eaten regularly; vegetables are another, and carbohydrates are a secondary food group that are occasionally eaten as well. Milk, eggs, fruit, breads, and cereals are all regarded as secondary food groups that should be eaten in small to moderate quantities according to one’s individual needs.
Folate, one of the B vitamins, is needed by the body to produce the hormone estrogen, which helps to control menstrual cycles, muscle growth, and energy. Too much of this hormone can cause the ovary to fail, which results in infertility. Too little can result in undernourishment or retardation of growth. A balanced diet rich in folate can help prevent the breakdown of folate-deficient foods and prevent chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.