The Importance of Healthy Food and Nutrition

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The consumption of healthy food and good nutrition is very essential to the overall bodily wellbeing of humans, especially children. In the modern advent of unhealthy, processed foods and sedentary lifestyles, individuals need to be educated on the need for balanced diets, exercise, interpretation of food labels and insight into additives (Ross, 2014). In this paper, an evaluation of the different food groups, food additives as well as the representation of nutritional information on labels is presented.

            Evidently, food is classified into various groups according to the nutritional classes they represent. These groups include fruits and vegetables, starch-rich foods such as cereals, bread and potatoes, foods rich in fat and sugar, non-dairy proteins such as fish, pulses and meat as well as dairy products such as milk and cheese (Brown, 2018). In the first group which comprises fruits and vegetables, a provision of at least five servings of a variety of both vegetables and fruits is required per day. This should form an average of a third of the total quantity of meals served daily. Also, the food may be canned, fresh or juiced although high levels of salt are undesirable. In essence, this class of foods helps to minimize the risk of various diseases as well as improving the general health.

            The second class includes carbohydrates such as bread, rice, cereals and potatoes which provide energy to the body (Brown, 2018). As one of the important components of a nutritious diet, this group of food is crucial in every serving to maintain adequate energy levels in the body. Additionally, a variation between the various different sources may be necessary for optimal nutrition.

            Another class of foods include the non-dairy protein sources such as fish, legumes, meat, eggs and pulses. Notably, this category also includes vegetarian diets due to the availability of foods such as soya, tofu and lentils. Two portions of such food should be provided daily with limitation to the amount of fat contained since they are essential for optimal growth and development. This is because they are crucial body building blocks useful in body repair and growth as well as crucial vitamins and minerals.

            Closely related to non-dairy proteins is dairy foods such as milk, yoghurt and cheese which form the fourth category. This group of foods is very rich in proteins as well as minerals and vitamins such as calcium and vitamin B12, A and D among others (Brown, 2018). Such helps in keeping the bones and teeth strong and healthy. Moreover, they should be served at least twice daily especially to children for optimal growth and development.

            Lastly, is the group of foods which encompass fat and sugary products. Such include margarine, biscuits, cooking oil, cakes, fried foods among others. Due to the high-calorie content of such food as well as inadequateness of other nutrients, they should only be served in small quantities and on an occasional basis. Additionally, they carry low nutritional content and saturated fats and salt which discourage their regular consumption for better health.

            Furthermore, a keen observance and understanding of the information contained on food labels are important before the consumption of processed and packaged foods for a maximum nutritional benefit. Such information includes the ingredients, nutritional composition, weight, description, country of origin as well as whether the food is organic or not. Of critical importance is the significance of this information to the nutrition of an individual as well as knowledge on quality of food consumed. For instance, consumers need to be aware of the energy and fat contents in a food material as well as the minerals, vitamins and additives that may influence the nutritional status. In essence, information available on food items is helpful in various ways. This includes an assessment of the suitability of the food in regard to nutritional value, freedom from additives, value for money, origin as well as the content of sugar, fat and salts (Ross, 2014).

            However, there have been numerous concerns on the ability of consumers to derive meaningful insight into the information available on food labels. The ability to interpret such labels clearly lies in the presentation as well as the ability to distinguish between facts and fiction. In this way, food labels may be misleading in various ways. For instance advertising tricks such as indications of 'low fat' may mislead consumers to think that it contains few calories which may not be the case. Such an example includes yoghurt labels which may hide the presence of high sugar levels through a 'low fat' label. Other misleading ploys include 'diet' and 'healthy' tags which may mislead people into consuming alternative sugars and excess calories as well as believing in the allure of healthy foods which contain unhealthy substances such as excess salts, fat and sugars. Such advertisement gimmicks are attributable to the failure of the 'traffic light' system by manufactures and food providers and the adoption of the more manipulatable 'guideline daily amounts' on food labels (Ross, 2014). Therefore, shoppers are prone to be misled by provided nutritional information and mainly rely on personal judgements rather than provided facts.

            Food additives are substances that are added to foods during the processes of packaging or preservation to improve their taste, shelf life, colour or texture. Over the years, there has been negative publicity against additives that sought to exclusively showcase their disadvantages such as allergic reactions and other risks. Among the common advantages include enhancement in flavour, shelf life, texture and appearance as well as fortification with nutrients (Brown, 2018).

            Evidently, additives help to limit the development of viruses and bacteria thus enabling food to last longer without posing the threat food poisoning. With the current rise of processed food, maintaining freshness and preventing spoilage is a critical delivery of additives. Consequently, the addition of flavours through food additives is crucial for variety and remedy to processes that alter food flavour such as freezing or dehydrating. Also, emulsifiers and stabilizers, as well as sweeteners and spices, help to preserve or enhance the appearance or texture of processed food which is often altered by common manufacturing. This ensures quality and consistency in the food substances delivered to consumers. Moreover, food additives improve the nutritional value of some foods with minerals and vitamins (Brown, 2018). Such fortification is essential in promoting healthy nutrition through better-balanced diets.

            In conclusion, nutrition is of critical importance to humans especially in the wake of sedentary lifestyles and processing in the current modern living. In this way, emphasis on balanced diets through adherence to food portions and servings from the various groups is important for optimal health. Furthermore, individuals should pay attention to emergent trends in food labelling and additives, to ensure that they get the necessary information and nutrition for healthy lives.

Works Cited

Brown, Amy Christine. Understanding food: principles and preparation. Cengage learning, 2018.

Ross, A. Catharine, et al. Modern nutrition in health and disease. No. Ed. 11. Lippincott Williams &     Wilkins, 2014.

August 14, 2023


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