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Stick to low
-
fat dairy products
.
Milk,
cheese, yogurt and other dairy products
are good sources of calcium and protein,
plus many other vitamins and minerals
.
Choose the low
-
fat versions,
though,
to help limit calories and saturated fat
.
And beware of dairy products that have
added sugar
.
Don›t forget beans and
legumes
Legumes
-
beans, peas and
lentils
-
are among the most versatile
and nutritious foods available
.
Legumes
are typically low in fat,
contain no
cholesterol,
and are high in folate,
potassium, iron and magnesium
.
Tey
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
gain
.
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
alcohols
.
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
.
Weight
-
loss
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
carbohydrates
.
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
.
It
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
health
Despite their bad rap, carbohydrates
are vital to your health for a number of
reasons
.
Providing energy
Your body uses carbohydrates as its
main fuel source
.
Sugars and starches are
broken down into simple sugars during
digestion
.
Tey’re then absorbed into your
bloodstream, where they’re known as blood
sugar
(
glucose
).
From there, the glucose
enters your body’s cells with the help of
insulin
.
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
.
Fiber
may also protect against obesity and type 2
diabetes
.
Fiber is also essential for optimal
digestive health
.
Choosing carbohydrates
wisely
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
vegetables
.
Aim for whole fresh,
frozen
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
.
But
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
.
Refned
grains go through a process that strips
out certain parts of the grain — along
with some of the nutrients and fber
.
Controlling
weight
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
calories
.
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
.