Food Basics

When deciding on what food to eat, it’s important for us to understand the benefits of each of the elements in our food. For those of us who may not know as much as others, here are the basic facts about Fats, Sugars, Sodium and Carbs.

Fats and Oils

When choosing packaged foods, you should ALWAYS be on the lookout for certain types of “bad” fats:

Saturated Animal Fats: Avoid products containing dairy, cheese, lard, and butter.

Saturated Vegetable Fats: Cocoa butter, coconut, palm and palm kernel oil are also on the list of no-no fats.

Man-Made Saturated Fats: Avoid foods with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated (trans fat) vegetable oils, margarine or shortening.

Sodium

How much sodium does the human body really need? For healthy people, it’s as little as 125 milligrams a day.

If all you eat is fresh fruit and vegetables, you’ll get 3-4x that.

Bottom line? We really don’t need to add extra sodium to our diet.

When you choose a packaged food, it’s really important to check the sodium content (and the rule also applies for gourmet salts – e.g. smoked sea salt, pink salt, as they are no healthier).

 

Sugar

You always want to avoid products with added sugar. But some packaged foods add sugars for flavour, binding, and so on.

What to Avoid: Look at the first 3-5 ingredients on the label. You don’t want to see any sugars among those top ingredients. If you see high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, fructose, evaporated cane juice, agave, molasses, maple syrup or honey, simply put it back on the shelf.

 

Carbohydrates

Despite the recent hype, the human body needs carbs. Where we run into trouble with carbs is when we’re eating the wrong kind. Here’s what to look for and what to avoid.

Say Yes to Intact Grains: Look for the FDA approved words for whole grains – “whole”, “cracked”, “stone ground”, “sprouted” and “rolled”.

 

Author: Basil (Volunteer)

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