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Have a Heart-Healthy Diet
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by: Celebrity Recipes Magazine

We’ve been avoiding fats for years. Expert-so-and-so says that it is the only way to stay trim and fit. Now the popular diets are telling us to avoid carbohydrates, too. Gosh! What is left to eat? Confusion is nothing new in the diet world.

Dietary fads come and go and come back again. A kernel of scientific fact, often taken out of context and blown out of proportion, helps these fads diets sound reasonable to the average reader, especially the chronic dieter desperate for new advice. Here are some basic facts you need to know.

Do pastas and others carbohydrates really make you fat?
Obesity comes from the combined influence of genetic, metabolic, environmental and behavioral factors can affect your energy balance, the balance between the calories you eat and drink versus the calories you burn. When you eat more calories than you need, your body stores the extra calories as fat. Therefore, too much of any food, even carbohydrates, can make you fat. To lose weight, you must increase your energy expenditure (exercise is best for this) and eat less.

Health and fitness professionals have been telling people to reduce fat intake to prevent chronic health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity. Their basic message continues to be worthwhile: Eat fewer foods high in fat, salt, and sugar; eat more fruits, vegetables and grains. Unfortunately, many people have interpreted this message to mean that as long as food has little or no fat, you can eat all you want.

When this theory is applied to a plate of steamed vegetables, it is almost true. After all, how many vegetables can you eat (without butter or high-fat dressing)? Most people naturally stop eating after a reasonable number of calories because high fiber foods fill you up. But what about a box of fat-free cookies? They go down pretty easily, don’t take up much room in your stomach, and deliver a lot of calories. The bottom line is fat-free foods are not a license for overindulgence.

Can carbohydrates stimulate the production of insulin which in turn causes the production of fat?
Many of the new diets advocating a reduction in carbohydrate intake cast insulin as the bad guy. But insulin is not to blame; extra calories are. Here is how insulin works. As you digest a meal, nutrients are released into the blood stream to be used as needed. When glucose, the basic building block of carbohydrates, and the “sugar” in blood sugar, enters the bloodstream, the pancreas release the insulin. Insulin in turn, signals the cells of the body to take up glucose from the bloodstream to produce energy and manufacture glycogen, a form of carbohydrate that can be store, and used to make energy when the blood sugar declines.

Yes, insulin also tells fat cells to store extra glucose as fat. It is for this reason that some people have blamed insulin for the creation of excess body fat. But blaming insulin for fat stores, is like blaming the people who work at a landfill for the excessive amount of garbage. Just as the workers don’t create the garbage, insulin does not create the excess fat. The landfill workers and insulin are simply doing their jobs.

Are high protein, low carbohydrate diets good for weight loss?
Any diets that limits caloric intake can produce a short-term weight loss that occurs with high-protein diets, however, is mostly water loss. Remember that pounds lost quickly are more likely to return quickly as well. Slow, steady weight loss produces by lifestyle changes you can live with is still the way to go.

Meals should include low-fat sources of protein and carbohydrate. Eat a variety of food you enjoy, and focus on heart-healthy changes that work for you and your lifestyle. And remember the most important component of weight loss program or heart-healthy lifestyle: regular physical activity, and a lot of it.

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September 22, 2017

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