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Nutrition 101

Discussion in 'Nutrition' started by maleficent, Sep 10, 2006.

  1. maleficent

    maleficent How about a nice cup of...

    Jun 16, 2006
    Wishing I was in bed
    Protein is a nutrient that is needed daily by the body. Protein has many functions:
    • It helps to build, repair, and maintain body cells and tissues like your skin, muscles, organs, blood, and even bones.
    • It also forms enzymes and hormones that enable your body to function normally. Enzymes enable chemical reactions to take place in your body. Hormones signal the appropriate enzymes to start working on what the body needs.
    • Proteins as antibodies protect you from disease-carrying bacteria and viruses.
    • Proteins help regulate the quantity of fluids in the compartments of the body to maintain your fluid balance. Protein also controls the composition of the body fluids.
    • Proteins control your body’s acid-base balance. Normal processes of the body continually produce acids and their opposite, bases, which must be carried by the blood to the excretion organs. The blood must do this without allowing its own acid-base balance to be affected. The proteins in your blood accomplish this task.
    • Only protein can perform all the functions described above. But it will be sacrificed to provide needed calories if insufficient fat and carbohydrates foods are not eaten. The body’s top-priority need is energy, and protein is a source of calories (4 calories per gram). As with all foods, if you eat more protein than you need, the extra will be stored as fat.
    The Purpose of Amino Acids

    During digestion, protein is crushed and mixed with saliva in the mouth. It then enters the stomach and comes in contact with very strong acid. This acid helps to uncoil the protein’s tangled strands. Stomach enzymes attack the protein bonds, breaking apart the protein strands into smaller pieces. The protein pieces enter the small intestine where the next team of enzymes accomplishes the final breakdown of the protein strands into free amino acids. The cells of the small intestine release the amino acids into the bloodstream.

    Once the amino acids are circulating in the blood stream they are available to be taken up by any cell of the body. Amino acids combine with other amino acids to form the specific proteins needed by the body.

    The many different proteins in your body are all made up of these amino acid building blocks. There are a total of 22 different types of amino acids. The body cells connect these building blocks to form each specific protein that is needed.

    Nine amino acids are considered ESSENTIAL
    Your body cannot make them, and your food choices must supply them. Their names may sound familiar: histamine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.

    The other amino acids are NONESSENTIAL
    Your body can make them if you consume enough of the nine essential amino acids during the day. Believe it or not, 10,000 different proteins may exist in a single cell of your body. Each one requires a different arrangement of amino acids.

    Sources of Protein

    Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt and soybeans provide all nine essential amino acids. For this reason, they are considered high quality or COMPLETE proteins.

    Plant sources of protein include legumes (dried beans, peas, and lentils), nuts, and seeds. Grain products such as barley, wheat, millet, rye, as well as many vegetables have smaller amounts of protein. These plant sources are all INCOMPLETE proteins because they do not contain all of the nine essential amino acids that the body needs.

    It is possible to still get your complete proteins without eating animal products. Luckily, the essential amino acids present in one plant food can “connect” with the essential amino acids in another plant food to form a complete protein. This is the principle of a healthy vegetarian diet. There is no need for combining specific foods at each meal, as once thought. Your body can make its own complete proteins if you eat a variety of plant foods and eat enough calories throughout the day.

    How Much is Enough

    Health organizations recommend limiting your protein intake to 10-35% of your total calorie needs. SparkPeople.com is programmed to calculate your protein baseline to be 20% of your total calorie intake. For someone who is consuming 2000 calories, this would equal 100 grams of protein (at 4 calories per gram, equals 400 calories). In most cases, this example protein intake could still be considered healthy if it ranged from 50 grams (10% of intake) to 175 grams (35%).
    To give you an idea of the amount of protein you can find in certain foods, check out the following list:

    • 1 cup milk…8 grams
    • 1 ounce cheese…7 grams
    • 1 ounce meat…7 grams
    • 1 egg…6 grams
    • ½ cup legumes…7 grams
    • 2 tablespoons peanut butter…8 grams
    • ¼ cup nuts…6 grams
    • ½ cup cooked non-starchy vegetable…2 grams
    • 1 serving of grain (1 slice bread, ½ bun, 1 c. dry cereal, 1 small muffin)…3 grams
    The power of protein is easy to achieve. Obviously, with the great availability of animal foods and nutritious grains and vegetables, most of us have little trouble meeting and probably exceeding our protein needs.
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  3. maleficent

    maleficent How about a nice cup of...

    Jun 16, 2006
    Wishing I was in bed
    Overview on Eating Well

    Overview - Eating Well
    The food you eat is the source of energy and nutrition for your body. Eating should be a pleasurable experience, not one that causes guilt or remorse. Getting enough food is rarely a problem, but getting enough good nutrition can be a challenge. What should you eat to stay healthy? Nearly everyone has an opinion, from your best friend to the daily newscaster. There is a lot of advice available, but the basics for good health have not changed since the first fad diets were introduced centuries ago.

    Your body needs over 45 different nutrients every day. These nutrients are essential for health and must be provided in the foods eaten. These nutrients can be divided into five classes:
    • Carbohydrates(starches, sugar, and fiber)
    • Proteins (includes 22 amino acids)
    • Fats(saturated, monosaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids)
    • Minerals
    • Vitamins
    These nutrients work together and interact with body chemicals to perform several functions.
    • Provide materials to build, repair and maintain body tissues
    • Supply substances that function in the regulation of body processes
    • Furnish fuel for energy needed by the body
    Each nutrient has a certain special job to do in the building, maintenance, and operation of your body. Some jobs require that nutrients work together as a team. These jobs are nutrient-specific. They cannot be done by other nutrients—an extra supply of one nutrient cannot make up for a shortage of another. That’s why a balanced diet including all food groups is so necessary. Your body needs all of these nutrients, not just a few. Some nutrients need to be replenished every day from food, while others can be stored in the body for future use.

    The Energy Providing Nutrients
    Of the six classes of nutrients, only 3 provide energy: Carbohydrates, Fats and Proteins. Energy is the body’s most basic need. Energy is used when you breathe, when the heart pumps blood, and when you sit, stand and walk. The more vigorous the activity, the more energy is required.

    The energy contained in a carbohydrate, fat or protein is measured in kilocalories, commonly shortened to “calories” in the United States. The calorie is a measure of energy available to the body. When you eat something, the number of calories it contains is the number of energy units it provides to the body for its needs. The calorie is also a measure of energy your body uses in everyday life or exercise.

    Where the Numbers Come From
    A bomb calorimeter is a special instrument used to measure calories in food. The food is first dried to remove water and then placed in a special container that rests in water. When the food is burned, heat is transferred to the water. The amount the burning food heats the water is the measure of calories. One calorie is the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water 1 degree centigrade.

    The energy values of the 3 calorie-providing nutrients are as follows:
    • 1 gram of carbohydrate= 4 calories
    • 1 gram of protein= 4 calories
    • 1 gram of fat= 9 calories
    Calories may also be added to food intake by consuming alcoholic beverages. Alcohol is not a nutrient because it cannot be used in the body to promote growth, maintenance, or repair. It is a toxin that is broken down as an energy (calorie) source and can be converted to fat.
    • 1 gram of alcohol = 9 calories
    Nearly all foods supply energy or calories. However, some provide more calories than others. No single food or kind of food is “fattening” by itself. When the energy provided in food is not used – whatever food it is – the excess is stored in the body in the form of fat. Storage of too many excess calories results in being overweight.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2006
  4. maleficent

    maleficent How about a nice cup of...

    Jun 16, 2006
    Wishing I was in bed
    The Confusing Calorie

    The Confusing Calorie

    You know by now that both eating and activity affect your weight. Eating provides your body with the energy it needs, while physical activity burns off calories. So the key to successful weight loss is finding the right ways to balance the calories you take in with the calories you put out. It all sounds so simple – and it really is.

    But there’s actually a lot to know. How to track calories in food. How calories are used and stored as fat. What is starvation mode? Can you cut calories too far? What to do about plateaus? This simple, little thing called a calorie can actually seem pretty complicated. Read on to help sort through the mystery.

    The Confusing Calorie. The calorie is a measure of energy available to the body. When you eat food, the number of calories it contains is actually the amount of energy units the food provides the body. The calorie is also the measure of energy that your body uses. Your body uses calories for many functions, such as breathing, pumping blood, resting, sitting, working, and exercising. So the calorie is used to measure both the amount of energy contained in foods, as well as the amount of energy your body uses.

    The difference between the two is the Calorie Equation. When you eat more calories than you use, the rest is stored as fat and you gain weight. To lose weight, you simply need to use more calories than you eat so your body is free to call upon other energy sources – such as stored fat.

    Where Do Calories Come From? There are six classes of nutrients: carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water. Of these six classes of nutrients, only 3 provide calories or energy for the body: carbohydrate, protein and fat:
    • 1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories
    • 1 gram of protein = 4 calories
    • 1 gram of fat = 9 calories

    Calories are also found in alcohol. Alcohol is not a nutrient because it cannot be used in the body to promote growth, maintenance, or repair. It is a toxin that is broken down as an energy source and can be converted into fat.
    • 1 gram of alcohol = 7 calories

    How are Calories Used and Stored? The function of each calorie-providing nutrient is different, but the end result of excessive intake is the same…FAT STORAGE.

    Carbohydrate is broken down into glucose for immediate energy needs; the surplus is stored as glycogen for long-term energy needs and brain function. However, after the glycogen stores are filled, the excess carbohydrate is stored as FAT.

    The nutrient Fat is initially broken down and used for its primary functions, such as providing cell structure. However, any excess fat fragments will be reassembled and stored in the FAT cells.

    Protein will also encounter the same fate. Once protein has met immediate energy needs and provided the body with other building and repairing functions, the excess will be converted into FAT and stored away.

    All foods supply energy or calories. However, some provide more calories than others. No single food or class of food is “fattening” by itself. When the calories provided in food are not needed by the body, the excess is stored in the body in the form of fat, no matter what food the calories came from. And while the storage of most cells is limited, fat tissue is able to store an unending amount of fat.

    How Many Calories Do I Need? Your energy needs take precedence over all other body functions. For an adult, there are three factors that determine your total energy requirements:
    • Basal Energy Requirement. This is the minimum amount of energy needed by the body at rest in the fasting state. It includes basic body functions such as respiration, cellular metabolism, circulation, gland activity, and body temperature control. It is affected by such things as age, gender, pregnancy, body composition, nutritional status, sleep, climate, and fever.
    • Physical Activity. The amount of calories needed for physical activity depends on the type of activity or work, the intensity and the duration. To learn calorie levels for different activities, check out the Calorie Lookup tool in the Fitness Resource Center, or print the Calories Burned Chart from the Printable Resources page.
    • Specific Dynamic Action of Food. This is the amount of calories needed to manage food intake and includes digestion, absorption, and metabolism of food.

    Balancing the calories you take in with those you put out is the safest, healthiest way to control your weight – for the next two weeks, or the next 20 years. It takes about 3500 calories to make one pound of fat. So to lose one pound, you can:

    • a) Burn 3500 excess calories (if you have a few hours to kill)

      b) Eat 3500 fewer calories (starvation diet, anyone?)

      c) A combination of exercise and diet (the best option)
    For example, to lose one pound in a week, you could simple create a calorie deficit of 500 per day (7x500 = 3500). That could be as simple as cutting out one donut (280 calories) and jogging for 25 minutes (240 calories) each day.

    Paying attention to both sides of the Equation actually makes it easier to lose weight than relying on one or the other, and is much easier on your body.

    The SparkDiet Set Up process used scientific calculations to determine your current calorie needs as well as calorie and fitness goals to promote weight loss based on the information you provide. By using the meal plans, nutrition tracker and calories-burned tracker, you are able to monitor your calorie intake and output.

    Starvation Mode. There is a common misperception that to lose weight, the lower the calories, the better. Ironically, eating more calories may be key. You can actually hurt your body’s ability to lose weight by going too low. Here’s why. The body has a protective mechanism. When calories drop too low (we recommend a minimum of 1,200 per day) the body reacts as if it is starving and tries to conserve energy. It will lower your metabolism, conserve calories and fat, and you will not burn calories as quickly. This results in a slower weight loss or even no weight loss. This is what’s know as the “Starvation Mode”.

    When calorie intake falls below 1,200 calories a day, it is also extremely difficult to follow a balanced diet and obtain all the nutrients that are needed by the body to stay strong and energetic and prevent disease. These very low calorie intakes can also lead to other health problems such as eating disorders, gout, gallstones, and heart complications. For these reasons, the SparkDiet strongly suggests not going below 1,200 calories daily.

    Muscle Power. Fat tissue lowers the rate at which one burns calories, because fat tissue requires less oxygen and is very inactive. On the other hand, muscle is a more physically and metabolically active tissue. It therefore burns more calories than fat. Through exercise, especially strength and resistance exercise, you can decrease the amount of fat in your body and increase the amount of muscle. This will then help you burn more calories each and every day, even when you’re not exercising.

    Muscle also weighs more than fat. Near the beginning of your program, you may gain some weight after strength exercising. This is perfectly normal. As the composition of your body changes from fat to muscle, the muscle will help burn off that remaining fat at a faster rate, uncovering your lean, fit muscles.

    On The Dreaded Plateau? Hitting a plateau during a weight loss program is normal (though it can still be frustrating). Your body requires fewer calories to function as your weight decreases. It needs time to adjust to all the healthy changes that are occurring due to the weight loss. So continuing to follow the same eating and exercise patterns won’t work forever.

    Everyone’s body will adjust differently. To jump-start your metabolism and break out of the plateau, you may need to select a different form of exercise to stimulate other muscle groups to become more active. Do not become discouraged; this may take several weeks or months. Stay focused on all the positive things you have accomplished. Your goal during plateaus is to try not to gain any pounds back. Get energized with a brisk walk. Add on a little jogging or running. Try a new piece of equipment. Test out a strength training routine. Try a new activity like dancing, rollerblading, or cross-country skiing. Start taking the stairs at home and work.
  5. maleficent

    maleficent How about a nice cup of...

    Jun 16, 2006
    Wishing I was in bed
    All About Carbohydrates

    All About Carbohydrates.

    The carbohydrate world can be very confusing. At times, carbohydrates are accused of being the cause of gaining weight, while other times carbohydrates are viewed as the ideal energy source for the body. Let’s take a closer look at the functions of carbohydrates:
    • The carbohydrate world can be very confusing. At times, carbohydrates are accused of being the cause of gaining weight, while other times carbohydrates are viewed as the ideal energy source for the body. Let’s take a closer look at the functions of carbohydrates:
    • Carbohydrates spare protein so that protein can concentrate on building, repairing, and maintaining body tissues instead of being used up as an energy source.
    • For fat to be metabolized properly, carbohydrates must be present. If there are not enough carbohydrates, then large amounts of fat are used for energy. The body is not able to handle this large amount so quickly, so it accumulates ketone bodies, which make the body acidic. This causes a condition called ketosis.
    • Carbohydrate is necessary for the regulation of nerve tissue and is the ONLY source of energy for the brain.
    • Certain types of carbohydrates encourage the growth of healthy bacteria in the intestines for digestion.
    • Some carbohydrates are high in fiber, which helps prevent constipation and lowers the risk for certain diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
    How Carbs Turn to Fat
    The digestion of carbohydrates actually starts in the mouth where an enzyme called salivary amylase starts the breakdown. The rest of the digestion process occurs mainly in the small intestine where enzymes break down large carbohydrate molecules into a simpler form called glucose. Glucose is absorbed into the blood stream and is used in several different ways:
    • Much of the glucose is used for immediate energy needs by the cells.
    • If there is more glucose than the cells need, then part of the glucose is stored as glycogen in the liver and muscle tissue. If blood glucose levels drop too low, the body can use this stored glycogen to replenish the supply. If levels are too high, the excess continues to be stored as glycogen.
    • After energy needs are met and the glycogen stores are filled, any excess glucose can be converted to fatty acids and stored as fat tissue. The fat tissue has unlimited storage capabilities.
    Fiber is also a type of carbohydrate but it has a different chemical make-up. Humans do not have the enzymes necessary to break down this type of carbohydrate. Therefore it is not digested and provides no calories or energy. Fiber gives the bulk to the intestinal contents and aids in normal elimination.

    Different Types of Carbs
    One way to classify carbohydrates is by their chemical make-up:

    Glucose Found naturally in fruits, sweet corn and honey. It is also the basic unit of complex carbohydrates. Glucose is the form of sugar normally found in the blood stream and used by the body for energy.
    Fructose Found in fruits and honey.
    Galactose Does not occur freely in nature but is produced from the breakdown of milk sugar (lactose).

    Sucrose Ordinary table sugar. It is found mainly in sugar cane, sugar beets, molasses, maple syrup, and maple sugar. Sucrose if formed when glucose and fructose bond together.
    Maltose Appears when starch is broken down by the body and also occurs in germinating seeds. It is formed when two units of glucose bond together.
    Lactose The sugar found in milk. It is made by the combination of glucose and galactose.

    Starch Found in grains, roots, vegetables and legumes. It is made up of many (up to 1000) glucose units. Humans can digest it. One only needs to cook and chew the plant cells to break open the cellulose walls. Enzymes release the individual glucose units, which are absorbed into the blood stream.
    Glycogen The storage form of carbohydrates in man and animals and is the primary source of glucose and energy. Muscle glycogen is used directly as energy. Liver glycogen may be converted to glucose and carried by the blood to the tissues for their use.
    Cellulose Made up of many glucose molecules and is the supportive framework of plants. Cellulose cannot be digested by humans. Therefore, it provides bulk to the stool. Cellulose is a type of fiber.
    Hemicelluloses Includes pectin and agar-agar. The body does not digest them. However they do absorb water, form a gel and increase the bulk of the stool, which gives a laxative effect. Pectin is found in ripe fruit and agar-agar comes from seaweed.
    Fiber Only found in plant foods. It is the part of plants that the body cannot digest. There are two kinds of fiber, and it is important to have both kinds in the diet every day.
    Soluble fiber is found in beans, peas, lentils, oats, and barley. Some fruits and vegetables also have soluble fiber, such as apples, carrots, plums and squash. Eating foods with soluble fiber may help to lower blood cholesterol and decrease your risk of heart disease. These foods may also help lower blood sugar levels, which is important if you have diabetes.
    Insoluble fiber is found in foods like wheat bran, whole grains and all vegetables and fruits. It is often called roughage or bulk because it keeps the digestive system running smoothly. This helps with constipation, hemorrhoids, and other digestive problems. It may help to prevent some types of cancer.

    The Glycemic Index

    A new system for classifying carbohydrates is the glycemic index. The glycemic index ranks foods on how they affect blood sugar level by measuring how much the blood sugar increases after one eats. For example, white bread is digested quickly into glucose, causing blood sugar to spike quickly. Therefore white bread has a high glycemic index number. In contrast, brown rice is digested more slowly, causing a lower, more gentle change in blood sugar. It therefore has a lower glycemic index number.

    Diets filled with high glycemic index foods, which cause quick and strong increases in blood sugar levels, have been linked to an increased risk for diabetes and heart disease.

    Using the glycemic index can be somewhat confusing. Some foods that contain complex carbohydrates, such as potatoes, quickly raise blood sugar levels, while some foods that contain simple carbohydrates, such as whole fruit, raise blood sugar levels more slowly.

    The Bottom Line
    The basic message is simple when it comes to selecting the amount and type of carbohydrate foods. Carbohydrates should make up 45% - 65% of the total daily calories in a healthy diet. At least 130 grams of carbohydrate should be included in the diet to prevent ketosis. Whenever possible, replace highly processed/refined grains, cereals, and sugars with minimally processed whole-grain products.

    The harder your body has to work to convert the carbohydrate into glucose (and ultimately fat), the lower the food’s glycemic number. Therefore, anything that slows the digestion and absorption of a carbohydrate-containing food will lower its glycemic index. These factors include:
    • Particle size. Larger particle sizes found in stone-ground flour, as opposed to finely processed flours, will slow digestion and lower the glycemic index.
    • Soluble fiber. This type of fiber, found in some fruits, vegetables, legumes, oat bran, and oatmeal, slows digestion and lowers the glycemic index.
    • Fiber coverings. Foods with a fibrous cover such as beans and seeds are digested more slowly and have a lower glycemic index.
    • Acidity. The acid found in some fruits, pickled foods, and vinegar slow digestion and lowers the glycemic index.
    • Type of starch. Starch comes in many different configurations. Some are easier to break into sugar molecules than others.
    • Ripeness. Some ripe fruits and vegetables tend to have more sugar than unripe ones, and so tend to have a high glycemic index.
    • Fat. Fat slows digestion and lowers the glycemic index.
    Carbohydrates: The Energizers
    Choose More Often

    whole grain products - breads, cereals, crackers, pancakes, muffins, bagels, pasta, brown rice, oats, bulgur, vegetables and fruits, legumes, low fat dairy products
    Choose on Occassion
    refined, white flour products - breads, cereals, crackers, pancakes, muffins, bagels, pasta, white potatoes, white rice, fruit juice
    Choose Seldom
    sweets and snacks: pastries, donuts, candy, cake, pie, cookies, sugared cereals, soft drinks, table sugar, honey, ice cream, sherbert, fruit drinks, potato chips, pretzels, snack crackers
  6. maleficent

    maleficent How about a nice cup of...

    Jun 16, 2006
    Wishing I was in bed
    All About Fats

    All About Fats

    “Your LDL’s are too high,” reports the doctor. “Cut back on fat to decrease your risk of cancer,” touts the magazine article. That’s great to know. But how? You may have the impression that fat is bad for you. It may come as a surprise that lipids (the general term for fats) are very valuable.
    • Fat is a concentrated source of energy. It supplies 9 calories per gram.
    • It supplies essential fatty acids needed by the body.
    • Fat carries and transports the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
    • Fat helps the body use protein and carbohydrates more efficiently.
    • Fat is a component of every cell wall.
    • Deposits of fat in the body serve to support and cushion vital organs, and to provide insulation.
    • Fat is the body's chief storage from for energy and work.
    • Fat carries the compounds that give foods their aroma and flavor.
    Types of Fat
    The most common forms of fat in foods and in the body are known chemically as triglycerides, making up about 95% of the total. Triglycerides are made up of three molecules of fatty acids and one molecule of glycerol, an alcohol.

    In addition to triglycerides, food fats also contain phospholipids and sterols. The most famous sterol is cholesterol. Cholesterol is a fat-like substance found in animal foods and in the body’s blood, brain and nervous systems. It is essential to the structure of every cell in the body. Cholesterol is related to vitamin D and the steroid hormones, such as cortisone and sex hormones.
    • Dietary Cholesterol is found in the foods eaten. It is found only in foods of animal origin, never in plant sources. The dietary goal is to limit intake to <300 milligrams each day.
    • Serum (blood) Cholesterol flows through the bloodstream. Cholesterol is essential for certain body components such as hormones, cell walls and various functions. Therefore your body manufactures most of its blood cholesterol. Some is also absorbed through the foods you eat. The goal is to have a total blood cholesterol level of <200 milligrams per dL.
    What LDL and HDL Mean
    During digestion, carbohydrates and proteins are dealt with first. However by the time fat reaches the small intestine, it receives all the attention. Bile is squirted into the mixture to emulsify or break up the fat globules, allowing enzymes to attack the chemical bonds on the triglycerides. The fats are digested and broken down into fatty acids and glycerol, and pass into the intestinal cells.

    Since blood and other body fluids are watery, fats need a special transport system to travel around the body. They travel from place to place mixed with protein particles, called lipoproteins. There are 4 types of lipoproteins with very distinct jobs:
    • Chylomicrons are made by the intestines for transporting “new” fat to the body’s cells. These carry mostly triglycerides.
    • Very-Low-Density-Lipoproteins (VLDL) are made by the intestines and liver to transport fats around the body. These carry mostly triglycerides.
    • Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL) are made by the liver to carry cholesterol to the body’s cells and tissues, and may form deposits on the walls of arteries and other blood vessels. They are therefore considered the lazy, or “bad,” cholesterol. The goal is to have an LDL level of < 100 milligrams per dL.
    • High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL) pick up and carry excess cholesterol from artery walls and bring it back to the liver for processing and removal. They are therefore considered the healthy, or “good,” cholesterol. The goal is to have an HDL level of >45 milligrams per dL.
    L = LAZY

    What Exactly are Fatty Acids?
    Fatty acids are the major component of triglycerides, the material of fat. Fatty acids are energy-rich chemical chains that come in three forms:
    • Monounsaturated Fatty Acids:
      Liquid at room temperature, decrease total blood cholesterol but maintain your HDL (healthy/good) cholesterol. Sources include: certain oils and margarines (canola, olive, peanut, sesame), avocado, nuts (almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia, pecans, peanuts, pistachios), peanut butter, olives, sesame seeds, tahini paste.
    • Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids:
      Liquid or soft at room temperature, decrease total blood cholesterol by lowering both the LDL (lazy/bad) cholesterol and the HDL (healthy/good) cholesterol. Sources include: certain oils and margarines (corn, safflower, soybean), walnuts, mayonnaise, most salad dressings, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
      • Omega-3 fatty acids are highly polyunsaturated. They are mostly found in seafood, especially high-fat fish, such as albacore tuna, mackerel, and salmon.
    • Saturated Fatty Acids:
      Solid at room temperature and increase total cholesterol and bad cholesterol. Sources include: butter, cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, cream, ice cream, whole milk, bacon, bacon grease, lard, beef, pork, poultry, shortening, coconut, coconut oil, palm oil, palm kernel oil, cocoa butter.
      • Hydrogenation is a food production process that changes liquid oils to solid at room temperature. Trans fatty acids are a type of fat formed by hydrogenation. It acts like a saturated fat and increases your LDL (lazy/bad) cholesterol and total cholesterol levels. To learn more about trans fats, read Translating those Trans Fats, located in the Nutrition Resource Center.
    The body’s cells can utilize the fatty acids directly as a source of energy. Any not used are stored in the fat tissue as a reserve supply of energy. Fat cells are able to expand almost indefinitely in size and quantity.

    Diet & Fat Guidelines
    One of the quickest and healthiest ways to reduce calories and lose weight is to cut back on the fat. Eating a diet low in fat is an important step in keeping your heart and arteries in tip-top shape too. The overall goal is to avoid excess fat, especially saturated fat and LDL cholesterol.
    • Limit your intake of total fat to <30% of your total calories each day. This is about 45-65 grams each day.
    • Limit your intake of saturated fat to <10% of your calories each day. This is about 15-25 grams each day.
    • Limit your intake of cholesterol to <300 milligrams each day.
    Remember that all fats and oils are not created equal; however all fats and oils are still high in calories. Things to keep in mind:
    • Monounsaturated fats help to lower the LDL (lazy/bad cholesterol) while NOT lowering the HDL (healthy/good cholesterol). These fats are the most heart friendly.
    • Polyunsaturated fats help lower the LDL (lazy/bad cholesterol) but they also lower the HDL (healthy/good cholesterol). So they are only somewhat heart healthy.
    • Saturated fats raise the LDL (lazy/bad cholesterol) and increase the risk of heart disease. Therefore, they are not heart healthy.
    • Trans-fatty acids can raise the LDL (lazy/bad cholesterol) and triglycerides levels, and lower the HDL (healthy/good cholesterol). They are not heart healthy.
    Food Group - Meat and Protein
    Choose Daily - Lean cuts of beef and pork-- with fat trimmed, poultry without skin, dried beans and peas, lentils, tofu, egg whites, egg substitutes, fish and shellfish, tuna canned with water
    Choose No More Than 3-4 Times a Week - Egg yolks, fish sticks, tuna canned in oil, poultry with skin, chicken nuggets, turkey hot dogs or bologna, nuts, peanuts, and peanut butter
    Choose for Special Occasions Only - Prime grade meats, duck, goose, dark poultry meat, bacon, sausage, scrapple, bologna, salami, hot dogs, ribs, organ meats, fried meats

    Food Group -Milk and Dairy
    Choose Daily -Skim milk, 1% milk and buttermilk, nonfat yogurt, nonfat frozen yogurt, fat-free cheese, low fat cottage cheese, soy milk, soy cheese
    Choose No More Than 3-4 Times a Week - 2% milk, 4% cottage cheese, ice milk, light cream cheese, light sour cream, low fat yogurt, sherbet, low fat cheese
    Choose for Special Occasions Only - Whole milk, regular cheese, cream, half-and-half, most non-dairy creamers, real and non-dairy whipped cream, cream cheese, sour cream, ice cream, custard style yogurt

    Food Group -Fruits and Veggies
    Choose Daily Fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruits and vegetables
    Choose No More Than 3-4 Times a Week - Olives and avocados
    Choose for Special Occasions Only - Fruits and vegetables prepared in butter or cream sauce, fried fruits and vegetables, coconut, vegetables with high fat salad dressing

    Food Group -Grains
    Choose Daily - Breads, bagels, pasta, cereals (whole grain products preferred), oats, brown and white rice, bulgur, baked corn tortillas, low fat crackers, air-popped popcorn, pretzels
    Choose No More Than 3-4 Times a Week - Angel food cake, crackers, fat-free cakes and cookies, biscuits, fig bars, oatmeal raisin cookies, pancakes, waffles, packaged mixes
    Choose for Special Occasions Only - Croissants, pastry, pies, doughnuts, sweet rolls, granola, snack crackers (with saturated fats), grain products prepared with cream, butter, or cheese sauce

    Food Group -Fats and Oils
    Choose Daily - Olives and olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil
    Choose No More Than 3-4 Times a Week - Safflower, corn, soybean, sesame, sunflower oils, margarine, mayonnaise, lower fat salad dressings, margarine that does not contain hydrogenated oil
    Choose for Special Occasions Only - Butter, lard, beef tallow, bacon fat, shortening palm, palm kernel and coconut oils, margarine or shortening made with hydrogenated oil
  7. maleficent

    maleficent How about a nice cup of...

    Jun 16, 2006
    Wishing I was in bed
    All About Fiber

    All About Fiber
    Figuring Out the Facts on Fiber

    When your parents told you to eat your vegetables, and when Grandma said “Eat your beans and cornbread,” they knew what they were doing. These foods are excellent sources of fiber. While eating fiber may be great advice…it has the reputation of tasting like cardboard. This could not be further from the truth! Fiber can be a delicious addition to your diet.

    Read on to learn all the benefits of developing a fiber fixation, along with easy, tasty ways to add it to your diet.

    What is fiber? Fiber is found only in plant foods. It is found in dried beans and peas, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It is a type of carbohydrate that gives plants their structure. Fiber is not digested or absorbed into the body when eaten. It therefore contains no calories.

    There are two types of fiber. Both are beneficial in different ways.
    1. Soluble Fiber (such as pectin) mixes with water to form a gummy substance that coats the insides of the intestinal tract. There, soluble fiber binds to cholesterol and reduces its absorption. This helps to lower blood cholesterol levels. It also delays the absorption of glucose and helps with diabetes control.
      Sources: oats, seeds, beans, barley, peas, lentils, apples, citrus fruit, carrots, plums, and squash.
    2. Insoluble Fiber absorbs water, making the stool larger, softer and easier to eliminate from the body. It keeps the digestive system running smoothly, reducing constipation, hemorrhoids, and other digestive problems. Since the stool is in the intestines for a shorter period of time, less cancer-causing agents deposit in the digestive tract, preventing certain types of cancer.
      Sources: bran, whole grain products, skins of fruits and vegetables, and leafy greens.
    What can fiber do for you? There are many health benefits to bulking up on fiber:
    • Aids in Weight Loss - Fiber-rich foods may help your body stay trim. They take longer to chew, which may slow down your eating time so you eat less food. Fiber helps you feel full and slows the emptying of your stomach. In other words, fiber helps you to fill up before you reach the point of overeating. Fiber itself cannot be fattening because it isn’t digested and has ZERO calories!
    • Reduces Risk of Heart Disease - Studies have shown that people who consume a high fiber diet are less likely to develop heart disease. Certain types of fiber may help lower LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff). Fiber also helps bile acids pass through as waste. Therefore the body absorbs less dietary cholesterol.
    • Lowers High Blood Pressure - Fiber-rich foods are also a good source of potassium and magnesium. These two minerals are needed to help regulate blood pressure.
    • Manages Diabetes - Water-soluble fiber also helps to regulate blood sugar by delaying the emptying time of the stomach. This slows the sugar absorption after meals and reduces the amount of insulin needed.
    • Prevents Cancer - Eating a high fiber diet throughout one’s life may help prevent certain cancers, such as colon and rectal cancers. Fiber absorbs excess bile acids that are associated with cancer. It also speeds up the time it takes for waste to pass through the digestive system, which decreases the amount of time that harmful substances remain in contact with the intestinal wall. Fiber also forms a bulkier stool, which helps to dilute the concentration of harmful substances.
    • Reduces Constipation, Hemorrhoids, and Diverticulosis - Fiber absorbs water, softening and bulking the stool. This helps it pass through the digestive system more quickly and easily. As a result, fiber prevents constipation. There is less straining with bowel movements so hemorrhoids are less likely to form. Fiber is also a standard therapy for the treatment of diverticular disease. This painful disease occurs when the tiny sacs in the intestinal wall become weak and infected. A high fiber diet helps to keep these sacs from becoming inflamed.
    How much do I need?
    The recommended daily intake for total fiber is:
    • Adult males, under age 50 38 grams daily
    • Adult males, over age 50 30 grams daily
    • Adult females, under age 50 25 grams daily
    • Adult females, over age 50 21 grams daily
    • Adult pregnant females25-35 grams daily
    Tasty ways to add fiber to your diet:
    • Try a high-fiber grain instead of rice. Bulgur, barley, and brown rice are great high-fiber substitutions.
    • Add beans to your favorite stir-fry, dips, quesadillas, burritos, and tacos.
    • Eat some type of fresh or dried fruit with every meal.
    • Start your meal with a large spinach salad, sprinkled with nuts, seeds or dried fruit.
    • Choose fruit instead of juice.
    • Make a pot of vegetable soup.
    • Add extra veggies and/or beans, peas, and lentils to soups, casseroles, and stews.
    • Try Middle Eastern cuisine, such as tabbouleh or falafel.
    • Keep nuts, trail mixes, and cereal mixes available for snacks.
    • Buy whole wheat pasta, breads, crackers, and cereals.
    • Top casseroles with wheat germ or bran.
    • Eat the skins of fruits and vegetables when possible.
    • Start your morning with a whole grain, high fiber cereal.
    • Ask for lunchtime sandwiches to be prepared with whole grain bread and topped with veggies
    • Too much fiber too quickly may cause constipation or stomach discomfort. Increase fiber in your diet slowly, and boost your fluid consumption by drinking 8 glasses of water daily.
    • Use canned beans or dried beans that are thoroughly cooked; the undercooked starch in beans can cause gas. Discard the cooking water because it contains some indigestible sugars. If bothered by gas, try Beano, an over-the-counter product which contains an enzyme that digests bean sugars.
    Laxatives…exit here: Do not take any laxatives for more than one week without checking with your physician. Do not take a laxative within two hours of other medications.
    • Bulk formers (Metamucil, Citrucel, Konsyl, Serutan). These products absorb water in the intestines and make the stool softer. They are similar to insoluble fiber. They are the safest laxatives.
    • Stool Softeners (Colace, Dialose, Surfak). These products keep the stool moist and prevent dehydration.
    • Saline Laxatives (Milk of Magnesia, Citrate of Magnesia, Haley’s M-O). These products act like a sponge to draw water into the colon for easier passage of the stool.
    • Lubricants (mineral oil). Lubricants grease the stool so it moves more easily in the intestines. They also can bind with fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K) and can cause a deficiency over time. In rare cases, pneumonia can occur with usage.
    • Stimulants (Correctol, Dulcolax, Purge, Feen-A-Mint, Senokot). These products cause the intestinal muscles to contract and move the stool through the intestines. They can lead to a dependency.
  8. ToothlessFerret

    ToothlessFerret Well-Known Member

    Jun 24, 2006
    England, UK
    Thanks for this series of posts Mal - very helpul, good simple information.
  9. Ohappydaye

    Ohappydaye Senior

    May 17, 2006
    *On cloud nine*
    Although not rocket science, this was very profound for me. It's a refreshing way to look at things...reinforces for me that its not about food, it's about fitness and activity level. Food is not evil, lack of "movement' is. Makes me wanna go for a jog. :D
  10. maleficent

    maleficent How about a nice cup of...

    Jun 16, 2006
    Wishing I was in bed
    --entire series of threads merged into one for easier reading--
    Need2BSmaller likes this.
  11. BringinToddBack

    BringinToddBack New Member

    Mar 29, 2007
    That was such an informative article. Thanks!
  12. Venice girl

    Venice girl Active Member

    Feb 9, 2007
    Venice, Italy
    Great help Mal. Thanks!
  13. samanthakk7

    samanthakk7 New Member

    Sep 29, 2007
    Hi Maleficent,:rotflmao:

    Nice and useful thread.. thanks for being active and your posts in this section helped me in solving many situations in my life. Thanks once again.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2007
  14. tropez

    tropez New Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    Love the post. Great job.
  15. Susana

    Susana New Member

    Mar 2, 2008
    It's very useful.
  16. 11firecrackers

    11firecrackers New Member

    Jul 10, 2007
    While I'm here, I have a question about fiber--these 100 calorie popcorn packs of mine apparently have great amounts of fiber, but it's popcorn, not exactly a vegetable (unless the fact that it's corn...) Does this make the popcorn a good snack to eat? Or is it still pretty much empty calories?
  17. maleficent

    maleficent How about a nice cup of...

    Jun 16, 2006
    Wishing I was in bed
    Popcorn is a fine snack - though read the labels - some of them tend to be high in sodium... If you enjoy them- eat them...
  18. stargurl84

    stargurl84 New Member

    Apr 1, 2008
    great post...good info for beginners. sometimes nutrition can get so complex
  19. allyphoe

    allyphoe Senior

    Oct 20, 2007
    I like popcorn. It's a whole grain, it's not terribly calorie-dense (so you can eat a large portion for few calories), and it's somewhat slow to eat. Kind of salty, so you might notice some water retention weight gain (happens to me if I have popcorn right before bed).
  20. Korrie

    Korrie Moderator

    Nov 19, 2004
    NW Ohio
    I don't know how I've missed this for so long...Thanks Mal! Very helpful!
  21. MachinaCognitan

    MachinaCognitan New Member

    Apr 15, 2008
    Thank-you! So long, you look at the calorie as an evil thing (reading labels, etc)...when actually it's a good thing...it's the way we ABUSE It that it's bad.

    I hope to make a lot of progress with this information. Thank-you again!!

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