Understanding fats and carbs
fats and carbohydrates are two building blocks of a healthy diet, but many people do not understand their proper nutrition role. While the daily intake of fats and oils should be limited, these elements are still vital in the diet. The key is to make smart choices when it comes to fats and oils. That means substituting saturated fats with unsaturated fats, and using healthier, lighter oils in cooking.
Let’s look at the role fats and oils play in the diet. Fats are necessary for supplying energy to the body. In addition, fats supply essential fatty acids and act as carriers for fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, and carotenoids. In addition, fats have an important role to play as building blocks for various tissues and membranes, and they also play a key role in regulating numerous bodily functions.
Dietary fat is available from a variety of plant and animal sources, and most diets do contain adequate amounts of fat. Most nutrition experts recommend keeping the intake of fat to less than 20% of calories, but studies have shown that severely limiting fat intake can be dangerous. Extreme low-fat diets should only be undertaking with a doctor’s approval and oversight. The type and amount of fat in the diet makes all the difference. A diet high in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol has been associated with various ills, including heart disease, stroke, and other associated diseases. Also, many long-term chronic problems, such as obesity, are associated with high dietary fat levels.
Animal Based Fats
The greatest risk of excessive fat intake complications appears to lie with saturated fats and trans fats (fats that are solid at room temperature). One of the best ways to keep saturated fat low levels is to limit the amount of consumed animal fats. These animal-based fats include meats like bacon and sausage, as well as butter and ice cream.
Dietary cholesterol can be limited by watching the consumption of eggs, organ meats, and other high cholesterol foods. Food labels do make the complicated process of choosing the right fats somewhat easier. For instance, trans fats will be listed on the ingredient list of foods that contain them. In general, trans fats are found mainly in processed foods. Some fats, such as polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats, are better choices for healthy eating.
Examples of these fats include canola oil and olive oil. Cooking with these lighter oils can be a big step toward a healthier diet. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, and they have been found to have heart-protecting qualities. Many types of fish have also been found to be sources of good fat.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fish are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These omega-3’s have been found to promote good health, and they may even lower cholesterol levels. Carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy diet as well, and carbs are necessary for providing energy and many essential nutrients. Carbohydrates are found in fruits and vegetables, in grains, and milk and dairy products.
Important Points of Carbohydrates
It is important to choose carbohydrates carefully, however, since not all are equally healthy. For instance, when choosing breads and cereal, try to select those made with whole grains while avoiding the more highly refined varieties. It is also important to limit sugar intakes, such as soda, candy, and highly processed baked goods. Consuming large amounts of such high calorie, low nutrient foods can make it very difficult to stay healthy without gaining weight.
Sugar for Fats and Carbs
Most Americans tend to have too much of certain elements in their diet. Sugar is one such element, and salt is the other. While a basic sodium level in the form of salt is important to proper nutrition, most people consume too much salt in their daily diet. Excess salt consumption can lead to water retention, high blood pressure, and other complications. Choosing low sodium foods and limiting the salt shaker’s use can go a long way toward cutting excess salt levels in the diet.