What Is Food?

Food is any material eaten to give nourishment to the organisms. Food is generally of vegetable, animal or fungi origin, and contains necessary nutrients, including vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, and minerals. The physiological significance of food is mainly dietary: in the process of eating food organisms assimilate food substances into their cells and tissues. The nutritional significance of food is related to the requirements of the body for the maintenance of health.


Plants and animals have their own stores of food, known as stored reserves, which represent the organic food that can be produced over a period of time. The food that animals eat represents the store food that cannot be stored for long periods of time, including meat and dairy products. Animal products consist of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals that are necessary for the growth and health of an animal. The major components of animal food are fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.

Fats, oils, vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, seeds and nuts are the primary sources of dietary fats. These foods provide essential fatty acids, which are vital to health. Oils provide a high level of dietary fat, but are obtained from plants and animal byproducts, with the highest levels of saturated fats coming from beef and coconut oil. Vitamins, minerals and other nutrients can also be absorbed from fats, oils, vegetables and fruits. Some fats and some oils are better than others at providing some nutrients and some better sources of energy, while other fats are better sources of some nutrients and fats are even better sources of some other nutrients.