What’s in a Food Label?
What’s in a Food Label?
Humans require food to live, and there are 7 types of food: protein, carbohydrate, fat, mineral substance, water, and fiber. Protein is the most important food in human nutrition, because without protein, humans would not be able to survive. Food is any material consumed to supply vital nutrition for organisms. Typical food is of animal, plant or fungi origin, and all have essential amino acids, including amino acids that are the building blocks of proteins.
In a recent study session held by the Royal Society of Medicine in London, participants were asked to rate the importance of various food groups for nutrition. The results showed that while the protein was the most important food, other nutrients were just as important. Participants were asked to rate the quality of the nutrient in vegetables, fruits, meats, dairy products, and grains. Across the board, most participants (nearly 77 percent) considered carbohydrates as the least important food group, with only about twenty percent considering fats and oils as equally important. However, the survey did not look at sources of these other important nutrients; thus it is not clear from the data that sources these other nutrients come from.
Some of the nutrients most lacking in diets across the world are fats and oils. Fats and oils are both important nutrients for health, but some are more important than others. Most people have heard of saturated fats and trans fats, which have been linked to clogged arteries and heart attacks. Other fats and oils are not so well known, such as palm nuts, canola oil, and fish oils. Saturated fats are commonly found in butter, margarine, heavy cream, eggs, and ice cream. Trans fats occur in partially hydrogenated oils and hydrogenated vegetable oils, although they are mostly found in foods such as cookies, potato chips, cakes, frostings, and candy.
Some foods, although eaten in small amounts, provide more than just dietary and nutritional content. They also provide energy. The fast food and junk food, for example, contain high levels of calories and low nutritional value. Yet, when eaten in moderation, they provide a welcome source of energy for many people. Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low calorie and contain good amounts of vitamins and minerals. A well-balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, plus a few other select food items, provide the majority of dietary and energy needs.
Less well-known dietary fibre includes legumes such as beans and lentils, grains such as oats and barley, and vegetables, especially fresh vegetables. Legumes are high in protein, yet low in fat and calories. Oats and barley are rich in essential vitamins and minerals, which, along with fruits and vegetables, make up a well-balanced diet. Vegetables are generally low in calories and contain many vitamins and minerals, which, in combination, provide a nutritious, balanced diet. In addition to legumes and vegetables, whole grains provide an additional source of dietary fibre.
The consumption of large amounts of food, especially fast food, can be hazardous to our health. However, eating small portions of healthy foods on a regular basis, along with regular exercise, can help to maintain weight loss and a healthy body weight. For most people, reducing fat intake, increasing the number of servings of fruits and vegetables per day, decreasing the amount of saturated fat consumed and increasing the daily consumption of dietary fibre will result in a healthier, slimmer you. The next time you pop into a fast food restaurant, consider giving it a miss – instead, pop into one of the healthy food options at your local grocery store!