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Understanding Carbs to Stay Healthy

Understanding Carbs to Stay Healthy
Barbara Morris

Low carb diets are popular. How good are they? How healthy are they? It all depends on what you know about the difference between different types of carbohydrates.

Common table sugar represents 20 to 25 percent of the daily caloric intake of Americans who live on the typical All American processed food diet. In the early 1800s average sugar consumption was about 12 pounds per person a year. In 1997, it was 152 pounds per person. Is that too much? You bet it is. Its making us old before we need to be.

Do we need carbohydrates? No, we dont. They are non-essential to the human diet. We do need water, fat, and protein. It is possible to survive for long periods without carbohydrates providing fat and protein needs are met. Fat and protein are broken down to make building blocks of carbohydrates as food and energy. This is something the carb-rich processed foods industry doesnt tell us.

Regardless of what is known about carbohydrate needs, we continue to consume massive quantities of carbohydrates. Therefore, its important to know which carbs are better than others. Its simple: All carbs are broken down into sugar in the body. The key is the rate and the amount that determines the level of sugar in the blood.

Complex carbs such as green leafy veggies, brown rice, potato, whole grain products, and fruits break down slowly. The result is a gradual rise and fall in blood sugar. It is generally understood that most complex carbs are good for you.

Refined, simple carbs such as cake, ice cream, cookies, breakfast bars, so-called cereals, and refined grains break down quickly in the body. This causes rapid elevation of blood sugar levels. These are not good for your health.

It should be understood that while refined carbs should be avoided because they are harmful, some complex carbs such as potatoes are not good because of their relatively fast breakdown.

How do you determine which carbs are really good, and what to avoid? Simple. Become familiar with something called the Glycemic Index of foods. When you look at a glycemic index for foods, bear in mind that the lower the rating, or number, the slower the digestion and absorption process and the better it is for your health.

As useful as the glycemic index is, you will need to learn which foods are good for you.. For example, a cup of low fat ice cream has a glycemic index of 50, which is lower than the glycemic index of a baked potato. Thats because the glycemic index rating of a refined sugar product is lower than that of a starchy food! So, learn to discern the difference between refined sugars and everything else. Just assume that if its made in a factory, its suspect!

Here are some glycemic index numbers for some popular food choices:
Baked Potato: 85; Cheerios: 74; Fanta soft drink: 68; Cheese pizza: 60; Banana: 54; Sweet potato: 54, Low fat ice cream: 50; Carrots: 49; Grapefruit juice: 48; All-bran: 42; Spaghetti: 41; Apple: 38; M&Ms (peanut): 32; Peanuts: 15; Yogurt, lot fat, artificially sweetened:14.

You can see from the above how misleading, yet useful the glycemic index can be.

The bottom is this: Do your homework. Dont rely on advertising or uninformed advice of well meaning friends to give you guidance about healthy eating. Making educated choices about what you put into your body puts you in the drivers seat and allows you to be in charge of how healthy you are, and how quickly or slowly you age.

About the Author

Barbara Morris, R.Ph., is a 76-year-old working pharmacist and recognized expert on unique anti-aging strategies. Author of Put Old on Hold, her message is for Boomers who want to feel and function as a healthy 40 or 50 year old for 25 or more years. She calls it Liberation Living a process she has discovered that bypasses infirmities and indignities of traditional old age. http://www.PutOldonHold.com


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The importance of fiber to a healthy diet

The importance of fiber to a healthy diet
Tony Robinson

When it comes to eating healthy and enjoying a healthier
lifestyle, it is hard to overstate the importance of fiber in
the diet. Even though fiber is most associated with grains, rice
and breads, it is important to remember that fruits and
vegetables also contain significant amounts of dietary fiber. In
fact, the need for fiber is just one more reason to eat your
fruits and vegetables every day.

In order to understand why dietary fiber is so important, it is
a good idea to know what fiber is and what role it plays in
digestion. Simply put, dietary fiber is the portion of food that
the human body cannot digest. Fiber is found in foods of plant
origin only; there is no fiber in meat and dairy products. Fiber
plays an important role in the digestion of food, and in the
elimination of waste products as they travel through the body.

Good sources of dietary fiber include grains, cereals, legumes,
lentils, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. As we said before,
meats and dairy products do not contain any dietary fiber, so it
is important to eat some plant based foods ever day to get the
fiber you need.

Soluble vs. insoluble Not all fiber is the same, and fiber comes
in two forms – soluble and insoluble. All plant materials
contain both types of fiber, but some sources contain more of
one than the other. Eating a variety of foods rich in fiber
every day will ensure you get adequate levels of both soluble
and insoluble fiber.

Insoluble fiber is important in keeping people regular, and it
has shown promise as well in the prevention of some types of
colon and rectal cancers. Insoluble fiber is mainly found in
wheat brain, some types of vegetables and in whole grain
products. Some vegetables rich in insoluble fiber include
carrots, peas and broccoli. The skins of fruits are also rich in
insoluble fiber.

Soluble fiber, on the other hand, has shown promise in reducing
levels of cholesterol in the blood, and at reducing the rate at
which glucose enters the bloodstream. Soluble fiber is abundant
in dried peas, lentils, beans, barley, oat bran, and in many
fruits and vegetables.

How much fiber is enough Many people are unsure just how much
dietary fiber they need every day, but most dietitians recommend
that women consume between 21 and 25 grams of dietary fiber per
day. For men, the recommendation is 30 to 38 grams of fiber each
day.

Of course, that is easier said that done, and it is important to
know which foods are high in fiber in order to boost your daily
fiber consumption. In the case of packaged foods like breads and
crackers, the fiber content will be listed as part of the
nutritional label. In the case of fruits and vegetables, there
are charts which show the fiber content of an average size
piece. Some grocery stores post this information, and it is also
widely available on the internet.

When increasing dietary fiber, it is best to make the increase
gradual. A sudden jump in dietary fiber can lead to bloating,
gas and abdominal discomfort. In addition, it is important to
drink plenty of fluids, especially water, in order for fiber to
have the best effect. When choosing breads and cereals, it is
best to go with healthier whole grains. In general, the less
processing, the healthier the foods.

Eating the skins of fruits and vegetables is a great way to
increase dietary fiber. Many people like to make fruit shakes
and smoothies that use the skins of their favorite fruits. This
makes a delicious and nutritious way to increase fiber
consumption. In addition, keeping a variety of fiber rich foods,
such as apples, nuts, seeds and bran muffins, around for snacks
is a great idea.

And finally, eating a wide variety of foods will ensure that you
get plenty of fiber, as well as the vitamins, minerals, and
trace elements that make a balanced diet so important.

About the author:

Tony Robinson is a Company CEO, webmaster husband and dad. In
his busy lifestyle he has placed importance on health and
fitness. Visit http://www.eat-healthily.com for good eating tips
and techniques to assist you maintain a healthy lifestyle.


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How to determine if your diet is healthy enough

How to determine if your diet is healthy enough
Zaak OConan

Everyone wants to eat a healthier diet, but it can sometimes be difficult to know if your diet is healthy enough. There are a number of factors that go into creating a healthy diet, and it’s important to evaluate the current state of your diet before embarking on a plan for healthier eating.

There are several questions you should ask yourself when evaluating the healthiness (or lack thereof) of your current eating plan. These questions include:

Do I eat a wide variety of foods?
Variety is one of the most important hallmarks of a healthy diet, since no one food contains all the nutrients needed by the human body. It is important to eat foods from all the major food groups, including grains and breads, fruits and vegetables, milk and dairy products, meats, beans and nuts.

If you find yourself avoiding some food groups, such as vegetables for instance, it may be time to look for a healthier diet.

Do I recognize the importance of cereals, breads and other grain products?
Eating a wide variety of grain based products is important to a healthy diet. Grains and cereals contain a large number of important nutrients, including high levels of dietary fiber.

It is important to choose whole grain products as often as possible, since whole grain products like wheat bread contain more nutrients than more refined white bread and similar products. When eating cereal, it is a good idea to choose whole grain varieties, or those that are enriched with vitamins and minerals.

Do I eat lots of fruits and vegetables?
Many people do not eat sufficient servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Most experts recommend eating between 5 and 9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day, roughly equivalent to 2 cups of fruit and 2 cups of vegetables.

When shopping for vegetables and fruits, it is important to choose a good variety of dark green, dark red, orange and yellow varieties. That is because different colored fruits and vegetables contain a variety of different nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin A and beta carotene.

Do I eat a good breakfast every morning?
Breakfast, or the absence of it, is often a good indicator of the state of your diet. If you rush out of the house every morning and grab a donut at the local convenience store, chances are your diet can use some work. A healthy breakfast provides a foundation for the rest of the day, helps you avoid cravings and provides much needed nutrition.

Do I choose low fat foods over higher fat alternatives?
This is also an important question to ask yourself. Low fat alternatives are available for a variety of products, including milk, cheese, meats and more.

One part of following a healthy, low fat diet is avoiding prepared foods whenever possible, since prepared foods tend to have higher amounts of fat and sodium than fresh foods.

It is also important to control the amount of fat that is added at the table. Adding things like butter, sour cream and heavy sauces is a sure way to ruin an otherwise healthy meal. Even healthy foods like salads can be sabotaged by the addition of high fat salad dressings. Try using lower fat alternatives like flavored vinegars instead.

Do I drink plenty of water?
Drinking plenty of fresh, pure water is important to maintaining a healthy body and a healthy lifestyle. Water is important to maintaining optimal levels of health.

If you think you need more water, try substituting water for less healthy beverages like soda and coffee.

Am I able to maintain my optimal body weight?
Gaining weight without trying to is often a sign of a poor diet. Following a healthy diet, and getting plenty of regular exercise, is the only way to lose weight and keep it off.

Do I limit the amount of salt, sugar, alcohol and caffeine in my diet?
While all of these elements are fine in moderation, excessive amounts of any of these four can indicate a serious problem with your diet. It is important to limit the amount of unhealthy elements in any diet.
About the Author

Zaak O’Conan discovers and presents useful information on how to enhance and/or repair your life, body and relationships. You’ll find his other articles on eating better and other ways how to improve your life at http://your-health-center.com


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Healthy snacks for healthy living

Healthy snacks for healthy living
TonyRobinson

Snacking is one of those issues that can wreck the best laid
plan for healthier eating. Everyone wants a snack now and then,
but the key is to make those snacks healthy and nutritious as
well as delicious.

There are many great snacks that can be enjoyed guilt free. For
instance choosing snacks from whole grain products, fruits and
vegetables, milk and dairy products, meat and nuts can be a
great way to satisfy your craving without destroying your diet.

The world of grain and whole grain products contain a great many
healthy snacks, including whole grain breads (wheat bread and
rye bread are great choices), whole what bagels, wholesome
tortilla shells, pita bread and whole grain cereals.

The all important vegetable and fruit food group contains so
many ideas for healthy snacks that it would be impossible to
list them all here. Some of the best, tastiest and easiest fresh
fruit and vegetable snacks include baby carrots or carrot
slices, bit size vegetables such as broccoli florets, radishes
and green peppers, fresh vegetable and fruit juice and fruit
salads.

For a quick and easy fruit salad, try this five minute recipe.
Open a can of mandarin oranges and pour it into a bowl, making
sure to capture all the delicious juice as well. Cut up a
banana, an apple and a nectarine and add them to the bowl. Add
some strawberries, blueberries and raisins for extra taste and
color, and serve.

Of course fresh fruit also makes a great snack on its own.
Snacking on apples, bananas and oranges is a great way to eat
healthy and still enjoy delicious snacks. Keeping a bowl of
delicious fruit on the table or the coffee table is a great way
to encourage the entire family to eat healthier.

The milk and dairy products food group also contains many
healthy snack items, including low fat and nonfat yogurt, skim
milk, low fat puddings, cheeses and even chocolate milk.

Low fat cuts of prepared meats and low fat varieties of lunch
meats make great snacks as well. Sandwiches made with whole
grain bread and low calorie spreads like mustard can be a great
treat any time of day or night.

Canned tuna (packed in water of course), peanut butter, eggs and
egg substitutes, poultry, nuts and beans are also excellent
choices for healthy snacks.

When creating healthy snacks, it is important to limit the
consumption of high fat foods, and foods high in salt and
sodium. Instead of buying snacks in the snack aisle of the
grocery store, try making your own using some of the suggestions
listed above.

For added variety, try combining several different healthy
snacks in unexpected ways. For instance, try spreading peanut
butter on pita bread, or use it as a fun dip for apple slices.
Or top a whole grain English muffin with tuna and cheese. Place
it in the broiler for a few minutes and enjoy a healthy and
delicious snack.

Other good ideas for quick and healthy snacks include pairing
fresh fruit with nonfat plain or vanilla yogurt, adding fresh
fruit slices to cereal, and using fresh fruit and fruit juices
to make delicious smoothies.

To perk up bagels that are getting a little stale, try slicing
them into thin pieces and arranging them on a baking sheet.
Brush them with some low fat salt free butter or margarine, some
garlic powder and bake them for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.
This is a great way to make your own inexpensive and healthy
bagel chips without the preservatives or extra sodium found in
the store bought variety.

There are of course many other types of healthy snacks, and
their variety is only limited by your creativity. It is
important to make a variety of healthy snacks, and keep them
readily at hand. Replacing all those unhealthy snacks with
healthier alternatives is one of the best ways to keep snack
cravings from sidetracking your healthy eating goals.

About the author:

Tony Robinson is a Company CEO, webmaster husband and dad. In
his busy lifestyle he has placed importance on health and
fitness. Visit http://www.eat-healthily.com for good eating tips
and techniques to assist you maintain a healthy lifestyle.


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