Tuesday, November 4, 2014

HEALTHY EATING HABITS FOR A HEALTHY DIET - PART 3

Good Carbs

What are carbohydrates (carbs)?


Carbohydrates are one of three classes of food called macronutrients (the other two are fats and protein). The term “carbohydrate” is a big umbrella, including everything from table sugar to cauliflower. The basic unit of a carbohydrate is a monosaccharide or simple sugar (such as glucose or fructose), but these simple sugars can be linked together in infinite ways, and will have very different effects on the body depending on their arrangement.
The body can obtain everything it needs to survive from protein, fats and the right kind of dietary carbohydrates (or good carbs), like vegetables, which offer many valuable components such as antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Why do I need good carbs?


 Good carbs are carbs that don’t raise blood sugar too high or too quickly. The best carbohydrates (like vegetables) are found in unprocessed whole foods that are rich sources of phytochemicals - plant compounds, which protect against cancer, heart disease and other illnesses. Many phytochemicals are natural antioxidants and many are anti-inflammatory. Carbohydrates like vegetables and fruits also contain tons of important vitamins and minerals. In addition, carbohydrates are the only dietary source of fiber.
Remember, a diet focused on eating plenty of good carbs is naturally low in sugar – especially processed or added sugar. So when you focus on eating good carbs, you are also adhering to another very important Atkins nutrition principle – Low Sugar.

Why should I avoid bad carbs? 


Bad carbs are highly processed carbohydrates (refined breads, cereals and pastries) that raise blood sugar too high and too quickly. These refined carbohydrates are not only higher in sugar and significantly lower in nutrients and fiber than whole foods, but they also break down more rapidly into glucose and enter your bloodstream far faster than vegetables and other good carbs. So if you eat refined carbohydrate foods, you stay on the blood sugar roller coaster ride of highs and lows.

How much do I need?


 Not as much as you think. Most Americans get over 300 grams of carbohydrate a day, most of it from highly processed sources that raise blood sugar quickly and play havoc with your health. A good general guideline for a healthy active individual is between 30 and 40% of your daily calories coming from carbohydrates for weight maintenance, though many people can do quite well with substantially less, especially for weight loss purposes. Athletes in good shape, without blood sugar problems, may be able to burn more. The percentage will ultimately depend on several factors such as your weight goals and your individual carb consumption.

How do I get good carbs into my diet? 


The best kinds of carbohydrates are those that do not raise blood sugar quickly, nor raise it too high but provide lots of nutrition – more bang for your nutrition buck. Those kinds of carbohydrates are described as good carbs or low glycemic foods. Good carbs include vegetables, low glycemic fruits such as berries and apples, as well as legumes and unprocessed high fiber whole grains.

Good Fats

What are good fats & bad fats?


Fat, in general, is one of the three classes of foods called macronutrients (the others are protein and carbohydrates). We divide fats into good fats and bad fats.
Good fats are all fats which are naturally found in foods; they are not heat processed, and are therefore not damaged. Especially important good fats are the essential omega-3’s, but any fat that’s normally found in food- like avocados, eggs, flaxseed, olives, coconut and nuts can be a good fat when consumed in a healthy diet.
All foods containing fat - even pure oils - contain a mixture of three kinds of fat- saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. (Foods are often identified by their predominant fat - for example, olive oil as “monounsaturated,” butter as “saturated” – but all real foods contain mixtures of the three).
Bad fats are damaged fats. They include oils that have been used and reused in frying. Bad fats are hydrogenated oils, also known as “trans-fats.”

Why do I need good fats?


Good fats are absolutely essential for human health. They provide the building blocks for many important hormones and structures in the human body. Omega-3 fatty acids, for example, are the building blocks of anti-inflammatory hormones.

Why should I avoid bad fats?


Bad fats or trans fats are often used in packaged goods such as chips, pretzels, cookies, fast food, shortenings and some margarine brands. They are even found in some brands of peanut butter. Because the body can't break them down, trans fats (or bad fats) attach to the arteries and may result in plaque formation, which can be linked to heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer and asthma, as well as other illnesses.

How much good fat do I need?


Good question. Native hunter and gatherer societies have thrived on diets with a wide range of fat intake. Most experts suggest approximately 30% of calories as a dietary goal for good fats, which should come from a good mix of naturally occurring saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. The Atkins Nutritional Approach recommends higher levels of good fats during the first three weight-loss phases when carb consumption is lower. This higher recommended level of good fats is an integral component of the Atkins plan as it aids in weight loss and energy levels. The Lifetime Maintenance Phase recommends 30%-40% of calories coming from fat – however, the percentage will ultimately depend on your individual level of carb consumption.

How do I get good fats into my diet?


Fish such as salmon and sardines are an excellent source of omega-3 fats, as is flaxseed. Nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts) all contain different mixes of good fats. Egg yolks contain a terrific mix of both saturated and unsaturated fat (as does beef). Coconut contains a particularly good form of fat known as MCT (medium chain triglycerides). And extra virgin olive oil is a rich source of healthy monounsaturated fat.
On the other hand, many highly refined vegetable oils (corn, safflower, soybean) have had all the good stuff processed out of them and should be used sparingly if at all.




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