Food Types and Their Health Benefits

There are many different types of food, and each has its own nutritional content. Here's a rundown of some common food categories with their health benefits.

Food is essential for human life, and mother nature has blessed us with a great variety of food. Food not only provides our body with energy but also the nutrients needed for growth, repair, and maintenance.

You may know about the famous cuisines, but do you know their fundamentals? Well, fret not! Continue reading, and you will learn about the different types of food, their nutritional content, and the health benefits they offer.

Come, let's explore the wonderful world of food!

Food Categories

All the different kinds of food we consume can be divided into the following categories.

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • Grains
  • Legumes
  • Baked Goods
  • Seafood
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Herbs and Spices
  • Garnishes

Now let's explore each of these categories in detail.


Vegetables form a significant part of our diets and are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They also make for the largest part of the food category, and our meals will be incomplete without vegetables. You can find vegetables in various colors, shapes, and sizes. They can be eaten cooked or raw and are often used as ingredients in other dishes.

There are various types of vegetables, including roots, bulbs, stems, leaves, and pods. Each type has its own nutritional content and health benefits. Vegetables can be grouped into nine distinct families based on their color, flavor, texture, and nutritional value. These are:

Asteraceae Family

Remember kids, eat your asteraceae!

The Asteraceae family mainly includes edible flower plants and herbaceous plants. It's also known as the daisy family, and the extended family includes over 23,000 species of daisies. This family comprises vegetables like lettuce, endive, artichoke, and chicory.

Alliaceae Family

Their family gatherings are bound to be odorous.

The Alliaceae family is also known as the onion family and includes over 850 species of flowering plants. You get vegetables present in almost all kitchens at all times and are most commonly used in cooking. This family contains vegetables like garlic, leek, shallot, onion, and chives.

Brassicaceae Family

Not a popular one, but a healthy one.

The Brassicaceae family is among the most widespread families of flowering plants, with over 4,000 species. It's commonly known as the mustard or cabbage family and includes vegetables like kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and turnip. So, Brassicaceae is the family of mandatory leafy green vegetables.

Cucurbitaceae Family

Definitely popular in October, at least.

The Cucurbitaceae family is famous for giving some great summer veggies. It's a large family of flowering plants with around 965 species, and you might know it as the gourd or squash family. This family includes vegetables like pumpkin, squash, cucumber, and gourd.

Solanaceae Family

You probably wouldn't guess some of these vegetables are related.

The Solanaceae family is typically known as the nightshades or potato family. It's a family of flowering plants that includes around 98 genera and 2,700 species. This family is loved for providing everyone's favorite veggie delight, the one and only potatoes. Apart from potatoes, other vegetables in this family include tomatoes, peppers, aubergine, and paprika.

Fabaceae Family

Commonly used as meat alternatives.

With around 765 genera and about 20,000 species, the Fabaceae family is known for providing protein-rich vegetables. It is also known as the legume, bean, or pea family. Vegans and vegetarians treasure this family for its protein-rich content. This family includes vegetables like soybeans, lentils, kidney beans, alfalfa, and clover.

Apiaceae Family

Both vegetables and spices are found in this one.

The family has several names, such as Umbelliferae, umbellifers, carrot, celery, or parsley family. With around 3,700 species in 435 genera, the Apiaceae family is the 16th most prominent family among flowering plants. It primarily has aromatic flowering plants that include root vegetables and spices. These are used in a variety of cuisines all over the world. You will find vegetables like carrots, dill, celery, cumin, parsley, parsnip, coriander, and fennel in this family.

Amaranthaceae Family

These give you superhuman strength, if Popeye is to be believed.

The Amaranthaceae family is also known as the amaranth or pigweed family and is widespread for its distinctive set of vegetables. It mainly consists of annual and perennial herbs, with a few species of trees or vines. Collectively, it has around 2,040 species in 165 genera. This family includes vegetables like spinach, beets, Swiss chard, amaranth, and quinoa.

Poaceae Family

A common element of livestock feed. Make of that what you will.

The Poaceae family is the hub of diet-friendly vegetables as it has a vast array of nutrient-rich veggies. This family consists of around 12,000 species, including cereal crops, bamboos, and grasses. Commonly known as the grass family, it includes vegetables like corn, wheat, oats, barley, and rice.

Lastly, the vegetable family has one more addition.


The closest thing to alien life on earth.

Now, fungi are technically not vegetables but are often counted under the vegetable umbrella. Fungi are used as a vegetable in various cuisines all over the world. They are very healthy and have a range of health benefits, and can be a meat alternative because of their high protein content. Some popular fungi vegetables are mushrooms, truffles, and morels.

Health benefits of vegetables:

Vegetables are easily an inseparable part of a healthy diet, and including them in your diet has many health benefits. These are some of the top health benefits of eating vegetables:

  • They are rich in nutrients and antioxidants
  • Help boost immunity
  • They aid in digestion and gut health
  • Reduce the risk of chronic diseases
  • They help in weight loss.
  • Improve blood pressure


Fruits are the sweet and fleshy part of a plant that contains seeds. Fruits are an essential part of a healthy diet as they are packed with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. They are a great dietary fiber and antioxidants source. Fruits also contain natural sugars that give you instant energy. You can eat them raw or take them in juices or smoothies.

There are different types of fruits, and they can be categorized based on their taste, texture, color, and more. Types of fruits:

Citrus Fruits

Sweet and sour.

As the name suggests, citrus fruits are tart and acidic in taste. These fruits are filled with vitamin C and antioxidants. These fruits are estimated to have around 87 to 88% water content. They work wonderfully in boosting the immune system and help weight loss. Citrus fruits are refreshing and are often used in salads, juices, or garnish. Some popular citrus fruits are oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, etc.

Pome Fruits

A pome a day keeps all manner of healthcare practitioners away.

Pome fruits are fleshy fruits with a core that contains the seeds. These fruits are a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Pome fruits are quite nourishing and provide great results when consumed regularly. They are often used in pies, jams, cobblers, or healthy snacks. Some popular pome fruits are apples, pears, quinces, and more.

Stone Fruits

Not actual stone.

As the name suggests, stone fruits are fruits that have a stone or a pit in the center. These fruits are also called drupes. Stone fruits are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. As per several studies, they are known to boost immunity, improve eyesight, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Cherries, plums, apricots, etc., are some of the popular stones fruits.

Tropical Fruits

While most fruits are categorized by physical characteristics, here they are grouped based on region - thus, there might be overlaps.

Tropical fruits are the ones that are native to tropical regions, which means they grow well in warm climatic areas. These fruits are often very sweet and exotic and are considered a good source of dietary fiber. Tropical fruits are often used in making healthy smoothies or as a healthy dessert option. Some popular tropical fruits are pineapples, mangoes, bananas, coconuts, and more. Tropical fruits are energy boosters, and having them for breakfast will make you feel fresh and energized.

Berry Fruits

Most of these have the word "berry" in their name.

Berry fruits are small, round, and fleshy fruits with seeds on the outside. The berry family consists of fruits considered the most nutritious for multiple reasons. They are filled with antioxidants and are highly effective in keeping your skin fresh and healthy. Moreover, berries can help control the insulin level, making them an essential aid for diabetic patients. Your diet can be rich in vitamin C, copper, manganese, vitamins, etc., if you consume berries regularly, which helps in boosting immunity. Some popular berries are raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, gooseberries, etc.


A summertime favorite.

Melons are a type of fruit with high water content and are often used as a refreshing summer treat. They help keep the skin hydrated and also assist in weight loss. Melons are broadly divided into watermelons, cantaloupe, and muskmelon. Watermelons carry essential vitamins and minerals and are rich in amino acids that can help reduce your blood pressure.

Health benefits of fruits:

As mentioned earlier, fruits are a great source of vital nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. These are some of the health benefits that you can enjoy by including fruits in your diet:

  • Help in boosting immunity as they are rich in antioxidants.
  • Keep the skin hydrated and also help in maintaining its elasticity.
  • It is effective in weight loss as they are low in calories and high in fiber.
  • Improving digestion as they are rich in dietary fiber.
  • Prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, etc.
  • Diminish the risk of anemia because they are a good source of iron.
  • Improve eyesight as they are rich in vitamins and minerals.


Some people can't imagine their lives without meat. A meal is incomplete for them if it doesn't include meat. Meat is a perfect source of protein and other essential nutrients required by our body. Meat is also a good source of iron, which is necessary for the production of hemoglobin. This type of food provides abundant B-vitamins, which are crucial for the proper functioning of the nervous system. Essentially, this food category includes all the animal flesh that can be consumed as food. Such as:


Best enjoyed in moderation.

Beef is simply among the most popular types of meat that is consumed all over the world. It is a brilliant source of protein, iron, and B-vitamins. It is also rich in zinc, which is necessary for the proper functioning of the immune system. Beef can be cooked in multiple ways and is often used in making stews, burgers, roasts, etc.


What got your hog?

Pork is obtained from the flesh of pigs and is a prevalent type of meat and provides protein and other essential nutrients. It is usually used in making sausages, ham, bacon, etc. Pork is full of flavors and is used in various culinary dishes. However, it is fatty meat and should be consumed in moderation.


A prized source of protein.

Poultry is lean meat obtained from chicken, turkey, and other birds. It is a considerable source of protein and nutrients. Poultry is low in fat and cholesterol and is often considered a healthy option. It includes everyone's favorite chicken and turkey. Moreover, the implications of poultry in cooking are nearly endless and are often used in making soups, stews, curries, etc.


How can you not feel sorry for them?

The flesh taken from a young sheep under a year old is categorized as lamb meat. It's recognized as one of the healthiest types of meat. You can get a good amount of protein, iron, and B-vitamins from lamb meat. Lamb has a strong flavor and is a popular meat in many cuisines and is often used to make curries, stews, roasts, etc.

Health benefits of meat:

Meat is high in protein and other vital nutrients and has numerous health benefits. Some of them are mentioned below:

  • Aids in muscle growth and development.
  • Helps in the production of hemoglobin.
  • Improves bone strength.
  • Enhances cognitive abilities.
  • Boosts immunity.
  • Maintains healthy skin and hair.


Sort of vegetables, depending on how pedantic you want to be.

Next up, we have grains, which are the seeds of grasses that are cultivated for food. Grains are a great source of essential nutrients and carbohydrates. They can be eaten in their whole form or processed to make flour. Also, grains are used to make cooking oils, alcohol, and fuels.

While they are a staple food in many cultures, grains are also used for feeding livestock. Some of the most popular types of grains are wheat, rice, quinoa, barley, millet oats, rye, sorghum, etc.

Health benefits of grains:

Grains are preferred for the numerous health benefits they offer. Some of them are mentioned below:

  • Helps in weight loss as they are rich in dietary fiber.
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Regulates blood sugar levels.
  • Boosts immunity.
  • Aids in improving digestion.


While healthy, these can also make you feel gassy.

Legumes are essentially plants that grow in pods and include beans, lentils, peas, etc. Rich in protein, fiber, and nutrients, they are a staple food in many cultures. Vegans and vegetarians favor legumes because they are a non-animal source of protein. Since they have no cholesterol and are low in fat, they are often used as a healthy meat alternative.

Legumes are a versatile ingredient and can be used in making soups, dips, curries, meatballs, burgers, salads, etc. Some of the most liked types of legumes are black beans, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.

Health benefits of legumes:

You can get a plethora of health benefits by including legumes in your diet. Some of them are mentioned below:

  • Helps in weight loss as they are rich in dietary fiber.
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Aids in improving digestion.
  • Regulates blood sugar levels.
  • Boosts immunity.
  • Prevent type 2 diabetes.


Forming a large part of our diet, dairy products are obtained from the milk of mammals. They have a high nutritional value and are an excellent protein, calcium, and phosphorus source. Since they are filled with calcium, zinc, vitamin D, and magnesium, dairy products significantly support the growth of bones.

Dairy products in cooking are prevalent as they add creaminess and body to dishes. They are often consumed as a part of breakfast or as a snack. You will find a wide variety of dairy products in the market, ranging from cheese and yogurt to butter and ice cream.

Some major dairy food items are:


Even if you are not lactose intolerant, human digestive systems aren't really meant for this stuff.

Milk is a drink and forms an essential ingredient in many dishes. It is a good source of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins A, D, and B12. Daily consumption of milk can help in reducing the risk of osteoporosis, hypertension, and obesity. Moreover, it actively propagates bone and tooth growth and aids in developing muscles.


Usually you don't want mold or bacteria in your food. Cheese is a different story, with some particularly gourmet Italian versions sporting live maggots when you eat it.

Cheese is a dairy product obtained by curdling milk and adding salt or acids like vinegar or lemon. It has a fat content and is a good source of protein. Cheese is the favorite dairy product of many and is used in various dishes. Be it pizza and pasta to burgers and salads, cheese makes everything tastier. You can find different cheese with unique textures, flavors, and colors.


Like cheese, but also not.

Yogurt is basically a fermented dairy product prepared by adding bacteria to milk. You will find an abundance of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins B6 and B12 in yogurt. Plus, yogurt is rich in probiotics, which are live bacteria good for gut health and the immune system. Regular intake of yogurt can help in reducing the risk of obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.


This ingredient has spawned a whole subculture of alternative products with nonsensical names like "You won't believe it is not butter!".

Butter is a creamy yellowish dairy product that is made by churning milk. It is known for providing vitamins like A, E, and K. Butter also contains conjugated linoleic acid, which can assist in weight loss. It's commonly used in baking and cooking as it adds flavor and texture to dishes. Some popular butter dishes are pancakes, waffles, cakes, cookies, etc.

Health benefits of dairy:

Dairy products are packed with nutrients and offer a range of health benefits. Some of them are mentioned below:

  • Builds strong bones and teeth.
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease.
  • Aids in weight loss.
  • It helps in preventing type 2 diabetes.
  • Lowers blood pressure.

Baked Goods

Baked goods are items that are prepared by baking. Baking is a cooking method in which food is cooked by dry heat, typically in an oven. Baked goods are usually sweet, such as cakes, cookies, and pies, but they can also be savory, such as bread, pizzas, and quiches.

Baked goods are very popular worldwide and are often consumed as a snack or dessert. Baking is a relatively simple cooking method, so baked goods are usually made at home. However, you can also find a variety of baked goods in bakeries and supermarkets.

Listed below are some of the most popular baked goods:


A guilty pleasure for many.

Cakes are sweet, often fluffy desserts made by baking a mixture of flour, sugar, eggs, butter, and milk. They can be of different flavors, such as chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, etc. Cakes are often decorated with icing, frosting, or fruit. People take a great deal of delight in baking cakes, and there are a variety of cake recipes that please different taste buds.


Grains, with added steps.

The pastry is a type of dough created by combining flour, fat, and water. It can be either savory or sweet. This dough is rolled out and shaped into different forms, such as pies, tarts, quiches, etc. Pastries are easily the most popular type of baked goods and are enjoyed by people of all ages.


Like cakes, but the focus is on the stuffing rather than layering.

Pies are baked dishes with a filling, such as fruit, meat, or vegetables, enclosed in either shortcrust or puff pastry. They are typically round or oval and can be either savory or sweet. Pies are a trendy food and are often served as a main course or dessert.


Ironically, not cooked but baked.

Who doesn't like cookies, right? Cookies are small, flat, sweet, and often crunchy snacks made from flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and baking powder. These little treats are available in various flavors, sizes, and shapes. Moreover, there are many flavors to choose from, such as chocolate chip, oatmeal, peanut butter, etc.

Custards and Puddings

If you are sensitive to some textures these won't be such a great time.

Custards and puddings are two of the most popular desserts in the world. You can enjoy these treats by themselves or with a topping, such as whipped cream or fruit. Custards are made from milk, eggs, and sugar, whereas puddings are made from milk, sugar, and flour. They are usually eaten cold but can also be served hot with a sauce or fruit.

Health benefits of baked goods:

Baked goods are delicious and offer a number of health benefits. Some of them are mentioned below:

  • They are a good source of energy.
  • Baked goods can help you gain weight.
  • They can improve your appetite.
  • Stress reductions and relaxation
  • They aid in digestion.


As the name suggests, seafood is a type of food that is derived from the sea. It can be either plant life or animal life. Seafood has an abundance of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. It is a trendy food all across the world and is often consumed as a part of a healthy diet.

Seafood is low in fat and calories and possesses ample nutrients like protein. The first thing that pops into our heads when we think of seafood is fish. However, there is a wide variety of seafood available; here are the most popular ones:


Did it fry the rice?

Shrimp are small, pink, and succulent seafood that is very popular worldwide. They are typically cooked by boiling, frying, or grilling. Shrimps are loaded with protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Plus, they are very low in calories, making them an ideal food for people looking to lose weight.


Often substituted by imitation crab in restaurants.

Crabs are shellfish popular in Japanese and Chinese cuisine. They are known for their succulent and sweet flesh. Crabmeat is rich in protein, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids. Eating crab can help you boost your immune system, improve heart health, and increase brain function.


Similar to shrimp, but they're not the same.

Prawns are seafood that is very popular in Asia. They are similar to shrimp but are slightly larger. Being rich in protein, vitamins, and omega-3, prawns are great energy suppliers. Adding prawns to your diet can help you improve your heart health and boost your immune system.


Considered an expensive delicacy.

Lobsters are large seafood that is very popular in North America and Europe. They are often regarded as a delicacy and are usually served on formal occasions. Typically, lobsters are boiled or grilled, but you can find several other ways to cook them for different flavors. They are a good source of energy and can help you boost your metabolism.


Enjoyed for its taste; recognized for its smell.

Tuna carries plenty of protein, selenium, iron, iodine, and vitamin D. It is also known for having high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which is very good for the eyes. Moreover, several pieces of research have proven that eating tuna can improve heart health and boost the immune system. You can find the use of tuna in a variety of dishes, such as sushi, salads, and sandwiches.


Often as much as status symbol as a meal.

Salmon is the most popular fish and is known for its pinkish and juicy flesh. They are often grilled, baked, or smoked, and their consumption can help you improve heart health, brain function, and joint pain. Plus, they have anti-inflammatory properties, which are beneficial for people who have arthritis.

Health benefits of seafood:

The following are some of the health benefits that you can enjoy by eating seafood:

  • Helps improve your eyesight.
  • Improves cognitive abilities
  • It can help you lose weight.
  • It makes your skin and hair healthier.
  • It can improve your heart health.
  • Provide relief from joint pain.

Herbs and Spices

Famously part of an online challenge.

Herbs and spices are widely used in various cuisines to enhance the flavor and aroma of food. They also have vast medicinal implications. The herbs come from the leaves of plants, while spices are derived from the bark, root, flowers, or seeds of plants. They both have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Using herbs and spices in your diet can help you improve your overall health.

Herbs and spices make into our daily dishes in many ways, be it whole, crushed, or as a powder. You will be amazed to know they were once served as currency for paying salaries and bribes. Common examples of herbs include basil, cilantro, mint, oregano, and rosemary. On the other hand, some popular spices are cloves, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, and black pepper.

Health benefits of herbs and spices:

Herbs and spices deliver a plethora of health benefits, some of which are listed below:

  • It can help you lose weight.
  • Boosts your metabolism.
  • Reduces inflammation.
  • Helps improve mental abilities.
  • Lowers the risk of cancer.
  • Protect your heart health.

Nuts and Seeds

Tasty on their own; tasty as an ingredient.

Nuts and seeds are a type of dry fruit often consumed as a snack. They carry a good amount of protein, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. Additionally, they are also a good source of fiber. They are the go-to food for your dose of good fats.

Incorporating nuts and seeds into your daily diet can be a good decision. They can help you improve your heart health, lower cholesterol levels, and protect you from various diseases. You can eat them whole, like butter, or add them to different dishes for extra flavor and nutrition.

Health benefits of nuts and seeds:

Apart from being a snacking delight, nuts and seeds offer numerous health benefits. Some of them are given below:

  • Helps improve heart health.
  • Can support cancer treatment.
  • Reduces inflammation.
  • Lowers cholesterol levels.
  • Help maintain weight.
  • Reduces the risk of diabetes.


Food deserves decoration too.

Lastly, we have garnishes. They are not essentially food but are part of a dish and can significantly enhance its flavor, aroma, and appearance. Although they are used for ornamental properties, they are edible, so they can be categorized as a food type.

Many people love decorating their food with different kinds of garnishes. It is a great way to make your meal more appealing and enjoyable. Some common examples of garnishes include chopped nuts, croutons, herbs, shredded cheese, and diced fruits.

Health benefits of garnishes:

Adding garnishing can uplift the overall look and appearance of your old and plain meal. However, garnishes also have their share of health benefits, some of which are:

  • Give you the benefits of herbs.
  • Make food look appetizing.
  • Fresh breath
  • Reduced gas and bloating.
  • Help improve digestion.
Posted by Pavneet Lobana

Pavneet is a home and lifestyle blogger with a passion for creating beautiful and functional spaces. A self-taught chef, she also loves to cook and share her recipes with others. Whether you're looking to create a cozy reading nook or upgrade your kitchen, she has advice that will help you get the most out of your space.