Categorising foods in terms of nutrient content
The previous chapters began with what happens when you eat food. They considered how food is broken into component parts and what becomes of these nutrients in the processes of digestion, absorption and metabolism. This knowledge was expanded upon to consider the different types of nutrients and other compounds in foods, and the implications for overall nutrition. In the end, however, people eat foods, so the next step is to consider which foods deliver significant quantities of nutrients and how they may be grouped or classified by this value. Before considering this issue, though, it is worthwhile noting that there are ot her ways in which groups of foods may also be recognised. Considering the times at which a particular food item is eaten, meal occasions may provide a reference point for defining foods, for example cereals may be classified as breakfast foods, even though there is no set requirement that they be eaten at t his mealtime. Grouping sweet items as desserts is another example, though dessert foods no longer appear restricted to one time of the day. Similarly, social circumstance of consumption can serve to categorise foods. For example, the terms 'party food' or 'occasional food' refer to those foods consumed on special occasions or during events held less frequently throughout the year. Eating events indicate the significance of culture and society, and geography is also significant. Even with an extensive world trade in food, different foods tend to be staples in different parts of the globe, and dietary patterns are formed based on the availability of foods within regions, leading to a categorisation of foods within cuisines.
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