Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Food, food groups and food pyramid

Before I get into details about nutrition, it is very important to really really understand what food is, what are the food groups and the food pyramids. What is food? Well, this question might sound very daft but trust me, it is very important to understand the term 'food' before you get into the details.

Definition 1: Food is anything solid or liquid which can be swallowed. digested and assimilated, nourishes the body.

Definition 2: This is a detailed definition. Food is a mixture of many chemical components. The study of food science, known as Bromatology (brom-a-tol'o-je), involves an understanding of the changes that occur in these components during food preparation whether natural or induced by handling procedures.

You must be knowing that many physical and chemical reactions occur during food preparation. For example: Why, rather how does spinach turn black when you cook it in a closed container? Or maybe why (how) does the milk curdle when you put anything acidic like lemon or vinegar? Well, these reactions are of course a result of the components, with the medium of cooking, and the environmental conditions like heat, cold, light or air to which they are subjected during cooking.

Foods have been classified into different groups depending upon the nutritive value, for the convenience of planning diets. Food groups like 'Basic four', 'Basic five' or 'Basic seven' can be used for planning diets as per convenience.

Let me now discuss a bit about each of these groups.

Basic Four:

  1. Cereals, millets and pulses
  2. Vegetables and fruits
  3. Milk, milk products, and animal food
  4. Oils, fats, nuts and oilseeds

Basic Five:

This group has been provided by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR).

  1. Cereal grains and products
  2. Pulses and legumes
  3. Milk and Meat Products
  4. Fruits and Vegetables
  5. Fats and Sugar

Basic Seven:

  1. Green and yellow vegetables
  2. Oranges, grape fruit, tomatoes or raw cabbage
  3. Potatoes, other vegetables and fruits
  4. Milk and milk prducts
  5. Meat, poulry, fish and eggs
  6. Bread, flour, cereals
  7. Butter or fortified margarine

What is the Food Pyramid?

The 'Food Guide' Pyramid is an outline of what to eat each day based on the Dietary Guidelines. It's not a rigid prescription but a general guide that lets you choose a healthful diet that's right for you. The Pyramid calls for eating a variety of foods to get the nutrients you need and at the same time the right amount of calories to maintain healthy weight.

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