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Home > The Basic Food Groups
The Basic Food Groups
The Basic foods are conveniently divided into Eight groups. Every food group is a good source of two or more nutrients and as such deserves to be included in every meal to maintain health.

Cereals:
They form the staple food in our diet. Besides Rice, Wheat, Jowar, Bajra and Ragi, this carbohydrate-rich group of food grains, also include unfamiliar millets such as wari, samai, kodra, rajgira etc. They are the main source of energy in our diet. Unprocessed cereals as consumed/recommended are an important source of proteins, vitamin B1 and iron. Ragi is exceptionally rich in calcium. Wheat contains more proteins than rice and other cereals, although rice has a better digestibility and higher biological value.

Pulses, Nuts & Oilseeds:
Both the whole pulse and the split pulse, called dal are a rich source of proteins and vitamin B. Pulses after germination (sprouting), also provide vitamin C. Nuts (and oilseeds) besides are a rich source of fats.

Roots & Tubers:
These include potatoes, sweet potatoes, raddish, yams, etc. which are rich in carbohydrates. Carrots are exceptionally rich in vitamin A (carotene`s).

Green Vegetables:
They include both leafy and non-leafy vegetables. These are excellent sources of several vitamins and minerals. This is particularly true of the green (and yellow) leaves. Vitamin A content increases with greenness. They contain a large amount of indigestible fibre called `roughage.`

Fresh & Dried Fruits:
Fresh citrus fruits are an excellent source of vitamin C. Mango and papaya is rich in carotenes. Dry fruits like raisins, apricots, figs and dates are rich in sugars and minerals, especially iron.

Fats & Sugars:
These include the various cooking oils, salad oil, hydrogenated fats (Vanaspati), Milk-fats (e.g. butter and ghee), lard and sweetening agents, such as sugar, gur and honey. Oils and fats collectively are the most concentrated source of energy.

Milk & Milk Products:
Milk is the most complete nature food. It is particularly valued for its protein, vitamins and calcium content. For the strict vegetarian it is the only source of good quality proteins (and vitamin B12).

Flesh, Fowl, Fish & Eggs:
The inclusion of these foods makes the diet a non-vegetarian or a mixed one. They are an excellent source of good quality proteins and vitamin B complex. A non-vegetarian, therefore, needs to consume less of milk and pulses.

Energy Requirements

Basal Metabolism:
The amount of energy needed to maintain life i.e. even when the body is lying still, at complete rest (both physically and mentally) called Basal Metabolism requirement is proportional to the body surface as calculated from the height and weight of an individual. This need rises steadily from birth up to the end of adolescent period. Women have lesser needs than men owing to shorter stature and shape. The requirements for basal metabolism of an average adult man and an adult woman in our country are about 1600 and 1300 calories, respectively.

Physical Activity:
Additional calories are required even for non-occupational activities such as standing, eating, dressing, moving about and so forth. Extra calories are required for the performance of muscular work as part of the occupation of an individual. No energy from food is required for mental work. The total caloric needs of any individual depend upon surface area, age (during childhood), physical activity, occupation and physiological stress (such as pregnancy and lactation). In the case of adults, any housewife as also any desk worker an officer or a clerk, typist or a teacher, is considered to be engaged in sedentary occupation and as such, requires less calories than a practicing Doctor, a roving social/field worker, an engineer, a tailor, a shoemaker or a carpenter. The requirements for Agricultural/Industrial activity or heavy plantation and/or mining work are still greater.

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