In recent times it would give the impression that fats and carbohydrates have both gotten a bad rap. First it was fat that was the culprit in all dietary ills, and low fat diets were all the rage. Then the two switched places, with carbohydrates being the bad guys and fat reigning supreme.
Both fats and carbohydrates play an important role in nutrition, and both are vital to a healthy diet. It would be impossible and unwise to remove all fat from the diet, since fat is important for the production of energy, and for carrying valuable fat soluble vitamins like vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin K, throughout the body. In addition, fat plays a very important role in regulating various bodily functions.
Even though some fat is essential to a healthy body, too much fat can be harmful. Excessive levels of dietary fats have been implicated in heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol levels and even some cancers. Most nutritionists suggest limiting daily fat intake to less than 20% of calories, although taking that level lower than 10% is not recommended.
The type and amount of fat in the diet makes all the difference. A diet high in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol has been associated with a variety of ills, including heart disease, stroke and other related diseases. In addition, many long-term chronic problems, such as obesity, are associated with high levels of dietary fats.
Food labels do make the complex process of choosing the right fats somewhat easier. For instance, trans fats will be listed on the ingredient list of foods that include them. In general, trans fats are found mainly in processed foods. When limiting your daily intake of fat and cholesterol, it is good to have an understanding of nutritional labels. This government mandated labels could be a huge help to those who take the time to read and be aware of them.
Carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy diet as well, and carbs are necessary for providing energy and many vital nutrients. Carbohydrates are found in fruits and vegetables, in grains and in milk and dairy products. It is important to choose carbohydrates carefully, however, since not all are equally healthy.
Keeping saturated fats and trans fats to a minimum is important to a healthy diet. Trans fats, which are solid at room temperature, are most often found in highly processed foods like cookies, cakes and other baked goods. In addition, trans fats are often found in fried foods and in salty snacks like potato chips. While these foods are fine in moderation, it is best to avoid large quantities of such snacks.
As with many products, less is often more when it comes to choosing foods rich in carbohydrates. For example, less refined whole grain bread is generally more nutritious than white bread, which has gone through a greater amount of refining. That is because the refining process tends to decrease nutrient content over time.
Of course, there are some elements in the diet that should be limited. Two of these elements are sugar and salt. Most Americans consume too much salt and sugar, and this has led to epidemics of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other ills. Limiting sugar and salt, while choosing good fats and unrefined carbohydrates, is a great way to make the most of the nutritional value of the foods you eat.
There's a lot to understand about Fats and carbohydrates. We were able to provide you with some of the facts above, but there is still plenty more to write about in subsequent articles.