Food is made up of 6 types of nutrients, including carbohydrates, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, and water. Our body needs these nutrients in order to be healthy and well; it is just a matter of knowing how to balance each of these supplements. Most people have the tendency to believe that all fats and carbohydrates are our number one enemy; therefore, they misguidedly cut them out completely from their diets thinking that they are the culprits of making them store fat. The truth is, fats and carbs are essential in our daily meals and should not be eliminated at all. Macronutrients are very important to our system as they give us the fuel to keep going every day.
As noted above, fats have had a bad reputation for so many years that most people believe that all fats are just plain bad for your health. Again, it all depends on how smart we are in making the right choices. Furthermore, a low-fat diet does not mean it is healthy because it is not necessarily low in calories. Even low-fat foods are high in refined sugars, simple carbohydrates, and may cause serious risk of heart disease. Consuming the right amount of fats from the right sources is what will ensure us to preserve good health. For instance, healthful fatty acids, including monounsaturated, omega-6 polyunsaturated, and omega-3 polyunsaturated are the types of fat we should be looking for. These good fats are found in nuts, avocados, seeds, olives, fatty fish, and even tofu.
In addition, fat does not only work as an energy source in our bodies, it also serves as cushion pads protecting vital organs from shock, as well as being a climate control that saves our bodies from extreme temperatures. Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids have excellent health benefits:
- HEART HEALTH: EPA and DHA in fish oils and fish reduce blood clot formation, and regulates heartbeat and blood pressure
- CANCER PREVENTION: Suppress inflammation.
- BRAIN FUNCTION AND VISION: Reduces inflammation associated with brain diseases and aging.
Now let’s talk about the bad fat. Dietary fat and cholesterol play a big role in heart disease as well as type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cancer. These harmful dietary fats are saturated fat and trans fat.
- SATURATED FATS: They come mainly from animal sources, such as red meat, poultry, and fatty dairy products. They raise cholesterol levels and risk of type 2 diabetes.
- TRANS FATS: They come in certain foods. Trans fats go through a processing method called “partial hydrogenation.” These fats also increase bad cholesterol levels, which can increase cardiovascular diseases.
The bad fats come in fried foods, margarine, shortening, cookies, cakes, pizza dough, bread, muffins, and crackers. Cake, pancake and waffle mixes, microwave popcorn, candy, chips, and basically anything that has “hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated” oils listed on the ingredients. As you can see not all fat is created equal, so it is just knowing the difference between the good fats and the bad fats.
Carbohydrates are basically the same way. Most people blame carbohydrates for their weight gain and their different health issues, but again, it all depends on which types of carbs are chosen. There are three different types of carbohydrates: sugars, starches, and fiber. Simple carbohydrates are the ones that should be limited in your diet, such as refined flours, white bread, white rice, white pasta, sugar, candy, syrups, pastries, desserts, sodas, and sugary drinks. Fruit and vegetables could also be considered a simple carb, but their level of fiber and nourishing elements make them more like complex carbohydrates.
Whole-grain and high fiber starches are complex carbohydrates, and the preferred sources for optimum health. Complex carbohydrates are the ones that take longer to digest, which make you feel full for longer and preventing you from overeating. They are generally lower in glycemic index meaning lower sugar levels will be released to your system. Thus, it is important to make the necessary changes to ensure the right carbs are being consumed; for example, brown rice, brown pasta, or whole-wheat bread. Before buying any packaged product, it is good to know if it is a complex or a simple carbohydrate; thus, you must check the ingredient list, and if the first ingredient is whole-wheat flour, you are more than likely getting a complex carbohydrate.
So, it is not only a matter of cutting these two important macronutrients, it’s just simply making substitutions. Make sure to focus on whole grain breads, oats, vegetables, fruits, and legumes to give you the appropriate nutrition as far as fats and carbohydrates are concerned. After all, fats and carbohydrates are the source of energy the body needs, as they are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients, which are good for your health when the right choices are made.