Eat Well, Be Well: Nutrition for Health

Posted by: Ken Kaus on Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 9:00:00 am

Nutrients in our food provide sources of energy, act as building blocks to provide structure, and regulate chemical reactions.  Three macronutrients (Carbohydrates, Proteins, Fats) seem to get the most attention.  What’s the real story?

Carbohydrates: Our primary fuel sourcefruit-image

  • Complex carbohydrates come from fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy products
  • Foods containing added sugars (i.e. candy and soft drinks) are simple carbohydrates
  • Broken down into glucose and delivered to cells to produce energy

Protein: For the foundation of our musculoskeletal system

  • The structural material of bone, muscle, and skin is composed of protein 
  • Used as a fuel source, but are not a primary source 
  • Found in foods like meats, legumes, eggs, and nuts

 Fats: Fuels cell structures and energy

  • Needed for cell membrane structure and in other systems of the body
  • Work with glucose to provide large amounts of energy 
  • “Good” fats include vegetable oils, nuts, and fish 
  • Foods high in “bad fats” include red meat, butter, and ice cream 

A word about sugar

  • Natural sugar and added sugars differ 
  • Natural sugars are in foods like fruits and vegetables
  • Cakes and cookies contain added sugar
  • Eating too much added sugar can cause spikes and dips in blood sugar plus weight gain 
  • Choose a healthy-carb over a no-carb way of eating

General recommendations

  • Eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low fat protein sources 
  • Include foods with good fats and limit foods high in saturated fats (e.g. red meat)
  • Avoid foods that contain trans fats 
  • Choose water (or other healthy beverages) over sugary drinks 
  • Limit salt intake 
  • Eat small meals throughout the day and never skip a meal
  • Utilize the USDA’s plate model to determine correct proportions (www.choosemyplate.gov

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