The Food Groups

We're living in a time where obesity and diabetes are widespread epidemics. It's been proven that nutrition can substantially lower a person's risk of developing Type II diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Nutrition can affect many of the risk factors for heart diseases, strokes and diabetes.

Nutrition means the thousands of nutrients that our body needs to function properly. Most of these nutrients affect our health. Today, a healthy diet includes physical activity, diet of vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, low-fat dairy, pultry and fish and non-trans fat.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are a body's main source of energy. There are three types of carbohydrates:

  • sugars
  • starch - complex carbohydrates
  • dietary fibers - the body cannot break them down

Dietary Fibers
There are two types of dietary fibers: soluble an insoluble. The insoluble fibers help a person's bowels move and prevents constipation. Soluble dietary fibers include oats, legumes, barley. These fibers lower the rate of cholesterol and sugar absorption, helping prevent heart conditions. The main sources of fibers are whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits and nuts. Fibers are only found in vegetation.

Whole Grains v. White
Western society prefers white flour, white rice, however, whole grains are more nutritious and better for your over-all health. These include: burgul, whole wheat flour, brown rice, oats, barely, quinoa and more. Whole grains and legumes lower your risk for heart diseases, diabetes and hypertensions, improve the balance between insulin and sugar, prevent constipation, contribute to the feeling of fullness after a meal

Sugar
Sugar is found in nature as part of various food products: vegetables, fruits and milk. Sugar as a sweetener is a man-made product, taken from sugar canes and sugar beets. This type of sugar only has calories and does not have any other vital nutrients for the body. Sugar consumption has spread in the modern world, despite the rising rates of obesity and diabetes.

We are used to uing a sweetener based on fructose sugar, made from cornstarch. This high-calorie sweetener is the main sweetener used in sugary drinks, cereals and other sweet foods. Using fructose is not recommended by various health organizations, as it raises a person's blood pressure and the amount of fat in the blood.

Salt

Salt is a vital nutrient for the human body. Throughout human history, salt had been had to produce making it worth a lot. In the last century, salt has become more and more available (and cheaper). The food industry uses massive amounts of salt, causing society to consume double the amount of the recommended portion. Most salt (77%) is consumed through processed foods. Too much salt can lead to high blood pressuer, strokes and heart attacks. It is important to lower you salt intake. Make sure to read food labels carefully so you can see how much salt is in each serving. Soy sauce, soup powders and other pre-made sauces have a massive amount of sodium, making it necessary for your health to use other types of spices and herbs.

Fats

There are three types of fats:

  • saturated fats
  • monounsaturated fats
  • polyunsaturated fats

Saturated Fats
Saturated fats for the most part are solids when they are at room termpature. The source of most of these fats are from animals - dairy products, chicken or meat fat, lamb, and egg yolks, while there are some fruits that produce saturated fats as well - coconut oil, cocoa oil and palm oil.

Modern industry produced a new synthetic type of saturated fats which don't exist in nature. Most processed foods use these types of fats. Converting fats to saturated fat produces a side effect called trans fats, which increase a person's risk of heart disease. Trans fats are more prevalent among processed foods and are not found commonly in natural foods.

Saturated fats and trans fats are directly related to the increase of bad cholesterol and hypertension. In order to lower your risk of heart disease, it is recommended to lower your intake of saturated fats and trans fats - these are found in margarine, snacks, cakes, cookies, bourekas, hotdogs, processed meats, crackers, pretzels, sauces and more. Use oil instead of margarine.

The food industry is required to label all ingredients that go into food. Make sure to read labels well before purchasing.

Monounsaturated Fats
These types of fats are found mostly in vegetation. MAny studies show that consuming this type of fats helps balance a person's levels of LDL and HDL in the blood. Therefore, it is recommended tht this be your main source of fat on your daily menu. Foods that contain monounsaturated fats are olive oil, canola oil, avocado, tahini, and almonds.

Polyunsaturated Fats - Omega 3 Fatty Acids
This fats is vital for humans and is not produced by the body itself. Therefore, it is important to include foods that contain Omega 3 in your daily diet. Many studies show that omega 3 fatty acids contribute to the prevention of atherosclerosis and decreases the risk of heart disease and hypertension. Omega 3 fatty acids can be found in walnuts, fish, canola oil, flax seeds, and flaxseed oil.

Polyunsaturated Fats - Omega 6 Fatty Acids
These types of fats are also vital to the human body and are important to have on a daily basis, but these acids also have unwanted implications, so intake should be limited - 1-2 tablespoons a day. These fatty acids come from canola oil, tahinia and soy oil.

Cholesterol
Cholesterol is found in meat and poultry and other animal derivatives, such as eggs, and butter. Cholestrol can increases the amount of cholesterol in the blood, so intake should be limited. One yolk has the amount of daily recommended amount of cholesterol. Recommended serving is 2-3 eggs a week, including eggs in cakes and cookies and other baked dishes.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are the best foods for your body. Many studies have proven that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables substanially decreases a person's risk of heart disease. You should have 8-9 servings a day. Diabetics should have 6 servings of vegetables and 2-3 servings of fruit. Try a variety of different fruits and vegetables. Remember that fruits are higher in calories, so it is best to speak to a dietician.