Make the Right Choice

The diet-conscious relate to "good food" and "bad food" based on what they feel makes them fat. This is wrong

Nuts, Milk, soya, potato

Fat

The upside

Fat is not all bad and it has several vital roles to play in the body. It regulates body temperature, protects vital organs, dissolves and stores fat soluble vitamins and acts a source of stored energy. Fat in food helps to give satiety value and enhances flavour by "dissolving" the spices.

Certain foods contain omega-3 [fish oil] and omega-6 fatty acids [evening primrose oil], which have been used to treat just about everything - from bipolar depression to skin problems. Polyunsaturated fats also lower total cholesterol and LDL ["bad"] cholesterol. Seafood like salmon and fish oil, as well as corn, soya, safflower and sunflower oils are high in polyunsaturated fats.

The downside

Fat is a concentrated energy source and any excess of it will get stored in the body to make you fat. Saturated fats raise total blood cholesterol as well as LDL. Saturated fats are mainly found in animal products such as meat, dairy, eggs, seafood, and also in some plant foods such as coconut, palm and palm kernel oil.

Soya

The upside

Soya has a high protein content [43.2 gm protein /100 gm], which is nearly double the protein present in other pulses. When it is combined with a cereal it adds up to be a complete protein. Soya is a natural source of isoflavones - a type of phytoestrogen which helps to block excess hormones or disrupting chemicals that cause many hormone-related problems such PMS, PCOD [polycystic ovarian disease] and prostrate cancer. Soya is also a rich source of calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamin E.

The downside

Soya is a nutritionally incomplete protein. It lacks the vital sulphur-containing amino acids, cystine and methionine, which our bodies do not synthesise. So, while it can help in the repair of tissues in the body, it does not necessarily promote growth and body building. Soya also contains certain enzyme inhibitors which block the action of trypsin, a protein digesting enzyme in the body, as a result of which when you eat soya, your body is unable to utilise the protein from food. Soya is high on phytic acid that binds vital minerals like iron, calcium, zinc and magnesium in the body. As a result, insoluble complexes are formed. These are made unavailable to the body and thrown out of the body. Germination or refining helps in getting rid of the phytates.

Nuts

The upside

Nuts are good sources of dietary fibre, magnesium, copper, folic acid, vegetable protein, potassium, and vitamin E, all of which have been shown to be important for heart health. Studies with almonds and walnuts have both shown a beneficial effect on blood cholesterol levels. Walnuts, in particular, are high in alpha linolenic acid, an essential [n-3 or omega] fatty acid that is protective to the heart and circulation. This fat has also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and dangerous heart rhythms in various studies.

The downside

While nuts can be the ideal on-the-go foods that you can carry in your pocket, sadly they are very high in fat. This fat is the right kind of heart healthy fat [mono-unsaturated fatty acids]; however, if you are trying to lose weight this calorie-dense food can be easily avoided.

Potato

The upside

Potatoes when eaten with the skin are a good source of vitamin C and other nutrients like potassium, copper, magnesium, and zinc. The starch in potato reduces acidity in the stomach. Recent studies claim that potatoes contain certain chemicals called kukoamines, which help lower blood pressure.

The downside

Potatoes are high in starch and, therefore, grossly high on calories as compared to other vegetables. Moreover, most of recipes include potato in the fried form, which adds to the fat content of our overall meal. Also, being starchy it does take up more oil while frying than other less starchy vegetables.

Milk

The upside

Milk is considered a complete food as it contains good quality protein as well as minerals like calcium, phosphorous, sodium and potassium along with vitamin A and some B vitamins. The main benefit of milk is that it provides high quality animal protein to vegetarians who do not have any other source of animal protein in their daily diets. Milk products like yogurt and buttermilk are excellent for promoting the growth of beneficial microflora in the intestine and strengthening the immune system.

The downside

Milk is a common cause of allergies and digestive problems in people lacking the enzyme required to digest milk [also known as lactose intolerance]. If milk is not skimmed, it is a very high source of fat. Of late, there has been more and more evidence to show that cows are being injected with hormones to increase milk production which definitely can be passed onto milk drinkers.

Points to ponder

Always remember that dieting is about options and not restrictions. While calorie-counting is important to get your weight down, never deprive your body of the nourishment it needs. Learn true facts about food before permanently banishing them from your diet - also, try to be more balanced in your approach to food.

Tips for a Healthy Diet

Did you know to lose weight, instead of cutting back on protein, you should actually increase your protein intake!

  • Protein is especially important if you do work-out, because it is essential in repairing your muscles
  • Too little protein will cause your body to break down the protein in your muscles, which will cause you to see very little results from hours of training in the gym.
  • A lack of protein will also result in a lack of important nutrients, such as iron and zinc. Vegetarian athletes who fail to supplement protein often suffer from colds and struggle to recover from work-outs, because their bodies are not supplied with all the nutrients needed to function properly.

- Team CW

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Samreedhi Goel
Samreedhi Goel is a Nutritionist and Personal trainer & fitness columnist who has been a part of the fitness industry since 1999. She has helped hundreds of people shape up, lose weight, achieve the body of their dreams, become fitter and healthier individuals and overcome chronic health problems through her fitness studio Size Wise.Her fitness columns and interviews appear on a regular basis in prestigious publications like Complete Wellbeing, Sunday Midday, Rediff.com, Seventeen India, Mumbai.

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