Classification of food according to its origin and function

Throughout this interesting article you will know in detail what is the food classification according to its origin and function?

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Food classification 

Food can be defined as any processed, semi-processed or raw product that is destined for human consumption.

These products provide the body with the nutrients and energy necessary to carry out bodily functions, maintain good health, as well as carry out daily life activities.

We consume food to nourish ourselves, as well as to satisfy and feel pleasure. According to their origin, composition and function, foods are classified. This article aims to introduce each food grouping. These classifications have made it possible to organize what is known in the nutritional world as the Food Wheel, which is made up of seven food groups.

To get into the matter, as we have noted, foods contain a variety of chemical compounds that come from their origin. Most food comes from plants and animals. It is important to note that only water and salt come from inorganic nature.

All the diversity of foods that we know have in different proportions different chemical compounds such as water, proteins, fibers, carbohydrates, lipids, minerals, vitamins, flavorings, pigments and bioactive compounds.

Processed foods have these elements in different compositions in order to give them textures, flavor, color and nutritional value. Also, the main component is water. As for the solid elements that food contains, they are lipids, proteins, carbohydrates and their derivatives.

A balanced diet integrates daily consumption of all food groups, hence the importance of this article.

From everything referred to so far, the classification of food is derived. Below each of them.

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Classification of food according to its origin 

Based on the origin of the food we can present a classification according to the source from which they come. Taking this criterion into consideration, three large food groups are presented.

Vegetable origin 

When we refer to the classification of foods by plant origin, we are talking about those products that come from the earth. Certainly, the world of genetics now intervenes in many fields of the world for the reproduction of seeds. However, they qualify within this group. The economic activity that is practiced for the production of these foods is agriculture.

Plant-based foods provide the body with many vitamins and minerals. They also contain many proteins, lipids, fibers necessary to optimize the functioning of our body.

For example, cereals such as wheat, rice, oats belong to this group. Cereals are rich in carbohydrates, fibers, proteins. Many are used to regulate digestive function such as oatmeal. Also to reduce cholesterol levels. If you want to know a little more about the properties of oats, we invite you to read the following link entitled Oat water .

In alphabetical order we present the food products that make up this group:

  • Oils
  • Sugars
  • Cereals
  • Fruits
  • Vegetable fats
  • Vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Tubers
  • Vegetables

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Animal origin 

As the name implies, products that come from animals qualify in this group. However, not all animals are part of this group. This is because some for health reasons are not suitable for human consumption. Others due to legal prohibitions.

The consumption of animals will depend on the culture of each country and region. For example, in Asian countries it is common to eat reptile animals, bats, ants, rats, among others. However, in Western countries these animals are not consumed.

The economic activity for the production of food of animal origin is animal husbandry or livestock. The products of the sea is through fishing.

Now, it is common that the following products of animal origin are consumed worldwide:

  • Cabras
  • Pig
  • Cattle
  • sheep
  • Turkey
  • Pollo

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animal origin of the sea

  • Seafood
  • Esqualos
  • Seafood
  • Molluscs
  • Fishes

Derived Animal Foods 

  • Dairy (cheese, butter, margarine)
  • Eggs
  • Animal fats

mineral origin

The foods that qualify within this group are precisely those that come from minerals and those that contain a concentration of minerals such as:

  • Water
  • Mineral salts (Ascobates, Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium, among others)
  • Vegetables (With high concentration of minerals)

Classification of foods by their nutrients 

According to the nutrients that foods contain, we can also classify them. This grouping forms the “Food Wheel”. This wheel is made up of seven groups, which are:

group I

This group is made up of milk and its derivatives. That is, by plastic foods. Proteins prevail in this type of food.

group II

This group is made up of meat, fish and eggs. That is, by plastic foods. Proteins prevail in them.

Group III

The third group is made up of legumes, nuts and potatoes. In other words, this group is made up of energetic, plastic and regulatory foods. These foods are characterized because Carbohydrates prevail in them, but they also have significant amounts of Vitamins and Minerals, as well as Proteins.

Group IV

The fourth group is made up of vegetables. In other words, it is the group for regulatory foods. These foods are characterized by the predominance of vitamins and minerals.

Group V

Fruit. This group is made up of regulatory foods. These foods are characterized by the predominance of vitamins and minerals.

Group VI

The sixth group is made up of cereals. In other words, for energy foods. They are characterized because carbohydrates predominate in them.

Group VII

Finally, the seventh group is made up of butters and oils. These foods are from the energy group. Likewise, they are characterized by the fact that Lipids predominate in them.

Classification of foods by their function

As its name indicates, this classification is formed according to the role they play in our body.

 Energy foods

In this group are grouped all those foods that provide high levels of energy that allow us to carry out a number of daily activities. They are recommended foods for physical activities such as walking, running, cycling, swimming, aerobics, or any physical activity.

The following foods are in this group:

  • Sugars
  • Cereals (oats, rice, corn, wheat, among others)
  • Dessert
  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, peanuts, merey, among others)
  • Cookies
  • Gelatin
  • Jams
  • Honey
  • Bread
  • Desserts
  • Products in syrup
  • Snacks
  • Sandwiches

Plastic foods or builders

As its name indicates, they are those foods that allow us to repair cellular tissue, muscles, skin, and activate healing. This group is made up of:

  • red and white meat
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Vegetables
  • Butter
  • Margarine
  • Cheese

Regulatory or protective foods

Regulatory or protective foods are those that help optimize the physiological functioning of our body.

  • Water
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Vegetables

Classification of foods by their composition 

This group of foods is based on the substances that the food contains, whether organic or inorganic. Although it is true that it has been widely publicized, all food classifications are of real interest to the consumer.


Macronutrients can be understood as substances that provide a lot of energy to the body in the form of calories. There are three main groups: proteins, fats and carbohydrates.

In other words, this group of foods is made up of those products that provide a lot of energy to the body, as well as those that regulate the physiological functions of the body such as the development of new tissues, conduction of nerve impulses, regulation of the body.

According to nutritionists and the medical field, the body requires a sufficient amount of macronutrients in order to balance the functioning of our body.

As we have warned, this group is made up of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Below we will develop each of them.


These substances contain a complex of organic compounds (amino acids: oxygen, hydrogen, carbon atoms, and some with bioelements such as sulfur, nitrogen, phosphorus).

The main function of proteins is to build and repair tissues, as well as the regeneration of muscle mass, form hormones and enzymes and contribute to improving the immune system.

The foods that are part of the proteins are red and white meats, fish, eggs, soy.


This group of foods is made up of those that provide the main source of energy. They are those foods that give us enough energy to carry out the different daily activities. They activate the correct functioning of the central nervous system, kidneys, brain, heart.

In this group are pasta, cereals (such as oats, rice, wheat), grains, corn flour, legumes, bread, tortillas


Fats contribute to the healthy growth and development of our body. They provide the energy necessary for the proper functioning of the body. They are also important for absorbing vitamins, maintaining cell membranes, regulating some hormones, and improving metabolism.

The ideal is to consume unsaturated fats such as olive oil, avocado, nuts, salmon, flaxseed, chia seed, among others.


This group of foods help regulate chemical functions in the body. It differs from macronutrients because they do not provide energy to the body. Another fact that differentiates them from macronutrients is that they are consumed in large quantities and micronutrients in small doses. Among the micronutrients we can refer to the following:

vitamins and enzymes

They are inorganic substances, which the body requires in small doses. They are essential in numerous metabolic reactions carried out by our body. As we warned before, these substances do not generate energy, nor do they provide calories. Some vitamins are complex A, B, C, D, E and K.

Minerals (electrolytes)

Likewise, they are inorganic substances that perform various fundamental functions in the body. Between them:

Regulate the activity of some enzymes

Facilitate membrane transport of essential nutrients

They perform structural functions among others.

It is important to emphasize that these substances do not provide or generate energy. Some minerals are calcium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, potassium, among others.


Water is a colorless, odorless and tasteless liquid, composed of two hydrogen atoms (H2O) covalently attached to an oxygen atom. However, this liquid incorporates various minerals when it passes through the subsoil or aquifers. Water is considered a nutrient, but especially it is an essential substance for life, since all living beings are composed mostly of water.

After describing the different food groups, we leave you with a complementary video that explains the importance of a balanced diet.

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