Foods contain three major nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Most of the carbohydrates we eat are in the form of starch or sugar and while many try to avoid them when dieting, they are the body’s main energy source. On average, 50% of calories each day should come from carbs. Some common examples are: corn, potatoes, bread, cereal, pasta, crackers, fruit and milk products. Click on the images below to see an expanded list of your carbohydrate choices.
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Protein is broken down into amino acids, which are used to repair and replace body tissues. Protein is found in meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts and dried beans. You should select lean meats, chicken (white meat, without skin), low-fat, or fat-fat cheese and beans, and plan for 2-3 servings per day.
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A small amount of fat in the diet is necessary to maintain good health; however, most of us consume more fat than we need. Too much fat increases your risk for heart disease, and it can also cause weight gain and obesity. Total fat intake should be 25-35% of your total calories each day.
There are different types of fat, some of which, such as Omega-3 fats, are healthier than others. Common foods with fat include: butter, margarine, oil, whole milk, cheese, fried foods, salad dressings, nuts, bacon, hot dogs, and processed lunch meat.
At room temperature, saturated fat is solid, and it is found mostly in animal products. This type of fat raises your risk for heart disease. It can also increase your cholesterol level. Less than 10% of your daily calories should come from saturated fat, but you should aim for less than 7%. Foods that are high in saturated fats include: high-fat red meats, bacon, sausage, butter, whole milk, cheese, coconut, and palm oil.
Choosing one of the following saturated fats is equivilant to 0 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fat and 45 calories.
| Butter, reduced-fat || 1 Tbsp |
| Butter, Stick || 1 tsp |
| Cream, half and half || 2 Tbsp |
| Cream, whipped, pressurized || 1/4 cup |
| Cream cheese, reduced-fat || 1½ Tbsp |
| Shortening, solid || 1 tsp |
| Sour cream, regular || 2 Tbsp |
| Sour cream, reduced-fat or light || 3 Tbsp |
At room temperature, unsaturated fat is liquid, and it is found in plant products. This type of fat may help lower your blood cholesterol. There are two types of unsaturated fats: polyunsaturated, which are the good fats. Most of your fat calories for the day should come from these types of fats. Common examples of polyunsaturated fats include corn, safflower, soybean, and sesame oils. Omega-3 fatty acid is also a good fat. It is found in soybean and canola oils, high-fat fish, flax seed, and walnuts. The second type of unsaturated fat that is a good fat is monounsaturated, as they may raise the “good’ cholesterol. Some examples of monounsaturated fats include canola, olive and peanut oils, as well as avocados, nuts, and fish.
Choosing one of the following monounsaturated fats is equivalent to 0 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fat and 45 calories.
| Avocado, medium || 2 Tbsp |
| Peanut Butter (trans fat-free) || 1½ tsp |
| Nuts - almonds, cashews, mixed (50% peanuts) || 6 nuts |
| Oil – canola, olive, peanut || 1 tsp |
| Olives- black (ripe) || 8 large |
| Olives – green, stuffed || 10 large |
Choosing one of the following polyunsaturated fats is equivalent to 0 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fat and 45 calories.
| Margarine, lower-fat spread, (trans fat-free) || 1 Tbsp |
| Margarine, stick, tub (trans fat-free) || 1 tsp |
| Mayonnaise, regular || 1 tsp |
| Mayonnaise, reduced-fat || 1 Tbsp |
| Oil: corn, soybean, safflower || 1 tsp |
| Salad dressing, regular || 1 Tbsp |
| Salad dressing, reduced-fat || 2 Tbsp |
Trans Fat (hydrogenated fat)
This type of fat is made when hydrogen is added to vegetable oils. It raises your cholesterol, even more than saturated fats. You will find it in commercially baked goods, stick margarines, fried food, and other processed foods.
Example of Daily Fat Grams
| Calories || Total Fat Grams (30%) || Saturated Fat (less than 10%) || Poly and Mono-Unsaturated Fats |
| 1200 || 40 g || Less than 13 g || 27 g |
| 1500 || 50 g || Less than 16 g || 34 g |
| 2000 || 65 g || Less than 22 g || 43 g |
Fats: 1 choice = 0 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fat and 45 calories
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