Nutrition Explained

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In the supermarket, there are many products and foods to choose from, so read the nutrition labels to ensure that whatever you’re bring home to feed the family is healthy. But unless you know what nutrition facts to look for, picking out the right foods can get overwhelming – and confusing.

Nutrition doesn’t have to be difficult, just follow this simple guide for healthier choices and nutrition essentials.

Proteins

Proteins are necessary to every cell, organ and tissue in your body and are found in meats, poultry, seafood, nuts, beans, eggs, soy products and seeds. Most people get enough protein from their diets, but many consume additional protein through shakes and supplements. Your body turns protein into amino acids to rebuild cells and muscles, which is why many people look for more in their diets to help recover from a hard workout. Look for fresh, lean proteins like poultry and seafood to help fuel your family.

Carbohydrates

“Carbs” help the body sustain energy by turning into glucose. If you have a family member affected by diabetes, you know how important a healthy level of glucose is to maintaining optimal body functions. There are “good” carbohydrates and “bad” carbohydrates in the way your body uses each for energy. Good carbs are high in fiber and low in sugar and can be found in vegetables, whole grains, fruits and beans; they take longer for the body to process. Bad carbs contain unnecessary sugars and are found in white bread, junk food and sweets.

Fats

Although it seems like fats are something you should stay away from, there are healthy fats you should be incorporating into your diet. Healthy fats help keep your skin and hair soft and shiny in addition to maintaining regular body functions. It’s important to limit the amount of synthetic fats or trans fats and solid fats like lard and replace them with a lighter oil to stay within a healthy range.

Fiber

If your body is not getting enough fiber, most likely you will be able to recognize it. Dietary fiber is essential to many body functions, especially proper digestion, but it also can reduce your risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes and help you maintain a healthy weight. There are two kinds of fiber, soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is found in fruits such as apples and oranges, in oats, nuts, peas and beans and helps lower cholesterol. Insoluble fiber helps maintain a healthy digestive system and is found in whole wheat, nuts, green beans and potatoes.

Find more resources for a healthy diet and nutritional tips at heart.org.

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