Having a sound understanding based on true principles related to nutrition is extremely important in our society today. In order to eat healthy, one has to know what makes food healthy and how much to consume. Food provides an important role in our everyday lives; it provides the body with the fuel necessary to nourish the body for optimal performance and health. The body receives fuel from 3 different resources. The first fuel comes from carbohydrates. Carbohydrates play a major role in promoting your health fitness. They form a major part of your food and help a great deal in building your body strength, by generating energy. Carbohydrates are considered to be “the preferred” fuel for the body. The DRI (dietary recommendation intake) recommends that 45-65% of dietary calories should come from carbohydrates. There are two types of carbohydrates. The first is a simple carbohydrate which includes fruit, table sugar, sweets, and sugar sweetened cereals. The second type of carbohydrate is a complex carbohydrate which includes vegetables, whole grains, and legumes (peas or beans.) Most of one’s carbohydrate intake should come mostly from complex carbohydrates.
Although fats have received a bad reputation for causing weight gain, some fat is essential for survival. Fat plays many essential roles in our body by stimulating appetite, promoting satiety, providing cushioning for the organs, absorbing fat soluble vitamins, providing energy, etc… The DRI recommends that 20-35% of dietary calories should come from fat. Fat is found in meat, poultry, nuts, milk products, butters and margarines, oils, lard, fish, grain products, and salad dressings. There are three main types of fat, saturated fat, unsaturated fat, and trans fat. Saturated fat (found in foods like meat, butter, lard, and cream) and trans fat (found in baked goods, snack foods, fried foods, and margarines) have been shown to increase your risk for heart disease. Replacing saturated and trans fat in your diet with unsaturated fat (found in foods like olive oil, avocados, nuts, and canola oil) has been shown to decrease the risk of developing heart disease.
The last fuel the body burns comes from protein. Protein also plays many important roles in the body by providing structural growth and maintenance, acting as a transporter, fighting infection, etc… The DRI recommends that 10-35% of dietary calories should come from protein. The best sources of protein are found in meats, poultry, fish, cheese, milk, nuts, seeds, legumes and in smaller quantities in starchy foods and vegetables.
Although carbohydrates, fats, and protein are very important they are not the only things that we need for survival. Our bodies also need water (6-8 glasses a day) and adequate amounts of minerals and vitamins. One can achieve this by eating a balanced diet including whole grains, lean meats, nuts, seeds, fresh fruit and vegetables. To learn more information on healthy eating refer to www.mypyramid.gov