We are what we eat. That is why eating healthy is important; lucky for us, science can help us with this. Did you know that the food that we eat can be divided into groups based on the nutritional properties they offer? Read on to find out how many classes of food exist, their functions, and their sources.
Today's vast number of dishes creates different food classes that are very difficult to organize. However, it is possible to classify them. The science of dietology develops daily, and its data can be used to determine what we eat and why. This guide has the classes of food with examples to help you keep a balanced diet.
What are the classes of food and their sources?
There are seven major classes of food based on their nutrient properties:
- Carbohydrates: These are energy-giving nutrients found in potatoes, rice, wheat, maize, and other starches.
- Proteins: These are bodybuilding nutrients found in meat, legumes and dairy products.
- Fats: These are found in nuts and fruits like avocados.
- Fibre: These are necessary for digestion and are found in fruits and vegetables.
- Minerals: These are necessary for improving bodily functions and are found in most foods, fruits, and vegetables
- Vitamins: These boost immunity and are found in fruits and vegetables.
- Water: This is used to create bodily fluids and is found in fruits, juices, and other liquids.
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Seven classes of food and their functions
The classification of food is based on macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients usually include water, fiber, fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. They are needed for our bodies in large quantities.
Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. They are needed in our bodies in much fewer quantities. Macronutrients provide the body with the energy to live and prosper.
The body always needs some of these nutrients as they provide constant energy. People’s health deteriorates because of the imbalance of nutrients. There can also be a deficiency and an abundance of nutrients in our bodies. Here is a breakdown of the classes of food with pictures.
Carbohydrate molecules are made up of hydrogen atoms, oxygen, and carbon. They can be classified according to the number of monomer units in them.
Therefore, they can be divided into polysaccharides, monosaccharides, and disaccharides. Carbohydrates can be found in rice, noodles, bread, pasta, and other products that have grains.
Polysaccharides are more complex than any other saccharides and take much more time to digest. Only the simplest sugar units of classes of food can be absorbed by the blood.
Simple carbs can be consumed by blood very quickly. Nevertheless, it may cause a sugar level to rise abnormally, which leads to vascular and heart diseases.
Protein molecules comprise hydrogen, oxygen and hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen. This nitrogen is an essential part of the amino acids needed for our body.
The functions of food with proteins include building cells, maintaining muscles, and improving metabolism. Our body structure is mostly made up of protein.
Every molecule of protein is made up of thousands of amino acids. Our body needs these elements to create new proteins and maintain the existing ones.
Protein that can be produced in our body is called non-essential protein, while protein that can’t be produced there is called non-essential. All animals need essential proteins to survive. This nutrient is found in beans, dairy products, fish, meat, and eggs.
One molecule of fat is usually made of several fatty acids. These fatty acids are made of long chains of carbon and hydrogen atoms. All fats can be divided into unsaturated and saturated.
Saturated fats are where all carbon atoms are bonded to hydrogen atoms. Unsaturated fats are where carbon is usually connected with double bonds with a few hydrogen molecules.
Fats regulate energy and help with temperature regulation and vitamin absorption. Fats exist in various foods, like dairy products, meat, fish, whole eggs, vegetables, and nuts.
Fiber is defined as a type of carbohydrate that is not absorbed by human beings. Fiber in the diet is usually made up of cellulose. It’s a large carbohydrate that can’t be digested by our body because it lacks enzymes.
Fiber can be found in fruits (oranges, currants, pears), vegetables (onion, corn, broccoli, garlic, green bean), pulses (beans, lentils), and whole grains (cereals).
Fiber is needed to keep our digestive system healthy and ready to do its job. It also contributes to processes like stabilizing cholesterol and glucose levels. A diet which is rich in fiber can prevent coronary heart disease, bowel cancer, and diabetes.
Minerals can be defined as chemical elements that are needed by living things. Elements are less needed for our body, but they are also essential to keeping us healthy.
Examples of minerals in classes of food include calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and so on. These minerals are found in dairy products, meat, fish, poultry, and grains.
Minerals represent various functions like building blocks for our muscles, bones, and teeth, carrying oxygen in our body, keep fluids balanced.
Vitamins are another nutrient that is not needed in large quantities but plays an essential role in our body. Examples of vitamins include thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, pyridoxine, folic acid, cobalamin, and ascorbic acid.
Vitamins are an essential part of our immune system as it helps us to regulate and maintain the healthy process of our body. They can be found in almost any product on the Earth.
Water is an essential part of our food. Human is essentially 80% water. Therefore, we need water to keep that balance to survive and stay healthy. Fortunately, water can be found in any product.
It is a simple combination of hydrogen and oxygen, but we cannot survive without this. The major examples of water in classes of food include hydration, nutrient absorption, digestion and metabolism and body temperature regulation.
What are the classes of food?
Below is a summary table of the classes of food, their function and sources.
|No||Classes of food||Sources||Functions|
|1||Carbohydrates||Grains, legumes, wheat, potatoes, cassava, maize, wheat, flour yams||Energy-giving nutrients|
|2||Protein||Egg, fish, beans, lentils, beef, yoghurt, cheese, nuts||Bodybuilding nutrients|
|3||Fats||Vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, fish||Helps your body absorb vital nutrients|
|4||Fiber||Broccoli, berries, dried fruits, chia seeds, raspberries||Necessary for digestion|
|5||Minerals||Cereals, bread, meat, fish, milk, dairy||Improving bodily functions|
|6||Vitamins||Nuts, fruit and vegetables, milk and dairy foods||Boost immunity|
|7||Water||Apples, watermelon, lettuce, peaches, cucumber, watercress||Creation of bodily fluids|
How many classes of food do we have?
There are seven main classes of nutrients that the body needs. They are carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, fibre and water.
What are examples of carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates provide energy for the body, but the type and quality of carbohydrates can vary. We have simple carbohydrates such as Honey, maple syrup and molasses. We also have Complex Carbohydrates, divided into grains, bread, starchy vegetables, and whole fruits.
Why is a balanced diet important for a child?
A balanced diet is crucial for children as it is fundamental to their overall growth, development, and well-being. It ensures that children receive a wide range of essential nutrients for their growth and development.
All seven classes of food provide specific nutrients necessary for the proper functioning of the body. You must consume all the necessary elements to help your body survive. Combining and balancing these basic elements of healthy nutrition like fat, carbohydrates, water, and so on will help you with this.
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