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Food Groups How are foods classified?

by Georgia Ede
Published: Last Updated on

What is a food and what does food consist of?

Food is any solid or liquid product that provides our body with substances for its proper functioning and development of vital functions.

On the other hand, Food is a voluntary and conscious process by which we provide our body with the substances necessary for its proper functioning.

Food is influenced by different external factors such as; socioeconomic factors (depending on economic resources, the diet may be poorer or richer), geographic factors (depending on the location, there may be a greater variety of foods available), religious factors (religions influence the way of eating) or factors psychological.

The power to being a voluntary and conscious process can be educated in order to carry out the most appropriate eating behaviors for our health.

There is no ideal food that provides all the nutrients that the human being needs, the ideal is to carry out a balanced diet (you can see here how to make a balanced diet ) in which the variety of foods allow us to provide the body with all the nutrients necessary for its proper functioning.

Food groups

Food can be classified according to different criteria (according to their biological function, according to their main nutrients, according to their origin, etc.).

The most widely used classification at the educational level is created by certain organizations and institutions in order to provide the population with valuable information to carry out a varied and balanced diet.

This classification divides foods into groups with similar nutritional characteristics. It is made up of 7 groups and is also commonly known as the food wheel.

The food wheel is a graphic resource similar to the food pyramid, which helps us to obtain a visual perception of the classification of food.

  • Group I. Milk and derivatives.
  • Group II. Meat, eggs and fish.
  • Group III. Legumes, tubers and nuts.
  • Group IV. Vegetables and vegetables.
  • Group V. Fruits.
  • Group VI. Bread, pasta, cereals and sugar.
  • Group VII. Fats, oil, butters.

It is also important to explain that there is another very valuable classification, which is the one that divides foods based on their biological functions. This classification is made taking into account the predominant nutrient in the food. They are divided into:

  1. Energetic food.
  2. Plastic or structural foods.
  3. Regulatory Foods.

Classification of Foods according to the similarity of their nutrients

Group I.

Milk and derivatives : – Milk is a fundamental basic food for newborns, for their correct development and growth. Its predominant nutrient is protein and it is also rich in calcium.

They also contain a high fat content, with the exception of skimmed or semi-skimmed milk. Derivatives of milk such as cheese or yogurt are also very important in our diet not only during development but also in adulthood, their high calcium content will help us maintain healthy and strong bones.

Group II.

Meat, eggs and fish : – These foods come together because their fundamental nutrient are proteins of high nutritional value, as well as some vitamins.

Meat in general has a high protein value. Beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, duck have more or less the same amount of protein, which varies is the amount of fat. The fattest meats are pork, lamb or duck.

Red meat is rich in iron, although it is necessary we should not abuse it as it is also rich in saturated fat. Eggs are a very good source of protein, most of it is in the white and the yolk is rich in fat. With regard to fish, everything is beneficial, both white and blue are of interest, although it must be taken into account that an excess of shellfish can raise uric acid.

Group III.

Legumes, tubers and nuts : – Legumes (white or green beans, chickpeas, lentils, beans or soybeans) provide proteins of plant origin, although these are of less biological value than those of animal origin.

The tubers, including potatoes, sweet potatoes, sweet potatoes or cassava, as well as legumes, are very rich in carbohydrates.

Nuts (walnuts, cashews, pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts or chestnuts) are an exceptional source of minerals, are rich in heart-healthy fats and provide protein and carbohydrates to a lesser extent.

Group IV.

Vegetables and vegetables : – The terms vegetable (carrot, eggplant, pepper, onion, zucchini, pumpkin, radish) and vegetable (chard, spinach, lettuce, celery, borage) are often used synonymously.

The term vegetable is a little broader, it is the plant that is grown in the garden, it encompasses everything, including the stems, fruits, seeds, roots or bulbs, while vegetables refer to the green leaf and the tender stems of vegetables.

Both vegetables are characterized by the fact that they provide a large amount of vitamins and minerals, as well as having a very low caloric intake.

Grupo V.

Fruits : – Fruits are the edible fruit from plants or trees. They provide sugars and large amounts of vitamins and minerals. They are low in calories and many of them rich in dietary fiber.

They contain a high antioxidant power and also have a high satiating power that allows us to control our appetite. There are different classifications of fruits, although the best known is the following: acidic, semi-acid, sweet and neutral fruits ( more information here on types of fruits ).

Group VI.

Cereals, their derivatives and sugar : – They are rich in carbohydrates and are the main source of energy along with fats. They are also an important source of dietary fiber. Cereals are rice, wheat, rye, barley, oats, millet, corn.

Bread and pasta are derived from cereals that are obtained from the grinding flour of cereals. It should be borne in mind that large amounts of vegetable fats and sugars are usually added to the cereals that we commonly know as breakfast cereals.

The sugar that we commonly know as table sugar is sucrose that is obtained from cane or beet sugar, it gives us quick energy but zero nutrients.

Group VII.

Fats, oils and butters : – The main nutrient are fats or lipids . These give us a lot of energy since the caloric intake is very high.

They are characterized by slowing down digestion and increasing the feeling of satiety after eating. Depending on their origin, fats can be of animal origin (meat or fish fat) or vegetable (sunflower, corn, soy or peanut oil).

They are classified into 4 groups: Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids are the healthiest and, on the contrary, the most harmful are saturated and trans fatty acids.

Classification of Foods by their functions

According to the biological function that food plays in our body, we can classify it into 3 groups:

Group 1.

Energy Foods : – Its predominant nutrients are carbohydrates (carbohydrates) and fats (lipids) and its main function is to provide energy to our cells for the correct functioning of vital functions. In this group are:

  • Cereals and their derivatives (rice, bread, pasta, flours).
  • Oils, butters and other fats.
  • Nuts.
  • Sugars, honey, sweets (chocolates, etc).

Group 2.

Plastic or structural foods: – They are foods that form or repair body structures. Its most prominent nutrient are proteins of animal or vegetable origin and minerals. In this group are:

  • Milk and its derivatives (yogurt or cheese).
  • Meat, fish and eggs.
  • Legumes, nuts and cereals.

Group number 3.

Regulatory foods : – They are foods that have an antioxidant and regulatory or facilitating function of certain metabolic processes. Its main nutrients are vitamins and minerals, they also contain photochemicals and are rich in fiber. They’re in:

  • Fresh fruits.
  • Vegetables and greens.

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