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Stick to low
fat dairy products
cheese, yogurt and other dairy products
are good sources of calcium and protein,
plus many other vitamins and minerals
Choose the low
fat versions,
to help limit calories and saturated fat
And beware of dairy products that have
added sugar
Don›t forget beans and
beans, peas and
are among the most versatile
and nutritious foods available
are typically low in fat,
contain no
and are high in folate,
potassium, iron and magnesium
also have benefcial fats, and soluble
and insoluble fber
Because they›re a
good source of protein, legumes can be
a healthy substitute for meat, which has
more saturated fat and cholesterol
Limit added sugars
Added sugar
probably isn’t harmful in small amounts
But there’s no health advantage to
consuming any amount of added sugar
In fact,
too much added sugar,
and in
some cases naturally occurring sugar,
can lead to such health problems as
tooth decay, poor nutrition and weight
So choose your carbohydrates
wisely. Limit foods with added
sugars and refined grains, such
as sugary drinks, desserts and
candy, which are packed with
calories but low in nutrition.
Instead, go for whole grains and
fruits and vegetables.
Apr/May 2012 51
carbs is typically used to mean the amount
of carbohydrates in a product excluding
fber or excluding both fber and sugar
You’ve probably also have heard talk about
the glycemic index
Te glycemic index
classifes carbohydrate
containing foods
according to their potential to raise your
blood sugar level
Many healthy foods, such
as whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits
and low
fat dairy products, are naturally
low on the glycemic index
diets based on the glycemic index typically
restrict foods with a relatively high
glycemic index ranking, such as potatoes
and corn
However, there also are health
benefts from these foods, so you don’t
necessarily have to eliminate them from
your diet
How many carbohydrates
do you need?
Te 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
recommends that carbohydrates make up
45 to 65 percent of your total daily calories
So, if you get 2,000 calories a day, between
900 and 1,300 calories should be from
Tat translates to between
225 and 325 grams of carbohydrates a day
You can fnd the carbohydrate content of
packaged foods by reading the Nutrition
Facts label
Te Nutrition Facts label
shows total carbohydrates, which includes
starches, fber, sugar alcohols, and
naturally occurring and added sugars
may also list total fber, soluble fber and
sugar separately
You may also be able to
fnd nutrient calculators online or fnd
information on a manufacturer’s website
Carbohydrates and your
Despite their bad rap, carbohydrates
are vital to your health for a number of
Providing energy
Your body uses carbohydrates as its
main fuel source
Sugars and starches are
broken down into simple sugars during
Tey’re then absorbed into your
bloodstream, where they’re known as blood
From there, the glucose
enters your body’s cells with the help of
Some of this glucose is used by
your body for energy, fueling all of your
activities, whether it’s going for a jog or
simply breathing
Extra glucose is stored in
your liver, muscles and other cells for later
use or is converted to fat
Protecting against disease
Some evidence shows that whole grains and
dietary fber from whole foods helps reduce
your risk of cardiovascular diseases
may also protect against obesity and type 2
Fiber is also essential for optimal
digestive health
Choosing carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are an essential part of a
healthy diet, and they also provide many
important nutrients
Still, not all carbs are
created equal
Here’s how to make healthy
carbohydrates work in a balanced diet
Emphasize fber
rich fruits and
Aim for whole fresh,
and canned fruits and vegetables without
added sugar
Tey’re better options than
are fruit juices and dried fruits, which
are concentrated sources of natural
sugar and therefore have more calories
Also, whole fruits and vegetables add
fber, water and bulk,
and help you feel
fuller on fewer calories
Choose whole grains
All types of grains
are good sources of carbohydrates
Tey’re also rich in vitamins and
minerals and naturally low in fat
whole grains are healthier choices
than are refned grains
Whole grains
are better sources of fber and other
important nutrients,
such as selenium,
potassium and magnesium
grains go through a process that strips
out certain parts of the grain — along
with some of the nutrients and fber
Evidence shows
that eating plenty of
vegetables, fruits and
whole grains can help
you control your weight
Teir bulk and fber
content aids weight
control by helping
you feel full on fewer
Contrary to
what some weight
loss diets claim, very
few studies show that
a diet rich in healthy
carbohydrates leads to
weight gain or obesity