Cutting out sugars and fats may seem like the easiest way to shed those unwanted pounds, but eliminating these substances isn't good for your health. Instead, focus on choosing healthy sugars and fats that will help you achieve your weight goal.
A Healthy Diet Must Include Fats and Sugars
Fats are an essential part of your diet. They provide energy, help your nerves and brain function optimally, keep your skin healthy and transport Vitamins A, D, E and K throughout your body. Sugars are simple carbohydrates that also provide energy. If they're not needed, they're converted to fats and stored by the body.
Good and Bad Fats
Although your body needs fats and sugars, some types are better than others. Saturated and trans fats make your favorite potato chips, cakes and doughnuts tasty, but they not only lead to extra pounds, but can also increase your risk of developing high cholesterol, heart disease and stroke. When Harvard researchers studied the reasons that the average adult tends to gain one pound per year, they discovered that people who ate potatoes, potato chips and beverages sweetened with sugar experienced the greatest weight gain.
Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and Omega-3 fatty acids are the better choice. They're found in foods like vegetable oils, nuts and fish. Although these fats are healthier, they can also lead to weight gain if you eat too much of them.
Natural Sugar is Best
Your body needs sugar to create the energy you need to get through the day, but all sugars are not created equal. Healthy sugars found naturally in fruits, vegetables and milk are better for you because these foods also contain nutrients, including potassium, Vitamin C, calcium, protein and carbohydrate fiber.
Foods that contain added sugars usually don't offer the same nutritional value that foods that contain natural sugars do. You'll find added sugar in soft drinks, fruit drinks, ice cream, cookies, candy, and fruits canned in syrup. Some foods that you may consider to be healthy, such as yogurt or granola bars, make contain surprisingly high amounts of added sugar.
Choosing Foods with Healthy Fats
Add foods that contain healthy fats to your diet, including:
· Lean meats
· Walnuts and sunflower seeds
· Tuna (Since tuna can be high in mercury, it's best to only eat it several times per month)
· Foods that contain soybean, canola or flaxseed oils
Reduce your saturated fat intake by trimming the fat off red meat before you cook it and removing the skin from poultry. Look for low-fat versions of foods, such as skim milk or low-fat cheese. Skip foods that contain whole milk or coconut, palm, palm kernel or palm fruit oils or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Don't cook with solid fats, such as shortening, butter or lard. Use olive, canola or sunflower oils instead.
Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth with Natural Sugars
Get your sweet fix naturally with these foods, many of which you'll find at farmers markets in the Triangle area:
· Low-fat milk
· Summer Squash
· Sweet Potatoes
Sticking to your new diet plan may be a little difficult at first, particularly if your friends at work present you with a birthday cake, or you're tempted by the aroma of freshly made French fries. Don't worry if you slip occasionally. An occasional treat won't completely derail your diet plan. After watching your sugar and fat intake for a few months, you might just discover that you no longer crave high-fat, sugary foods.