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HIV & AIDS Health Center

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Nutrition and HIV/AIDS

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The Basic Principles of Nutrition and HIV continued...

Carbohydrates give you energy. To get enough of the right types of carbohydrates:

  • Eat five to six servings (about 3 cups) of fruits and vegetables each day.
  • Choose produce with a variety of colors to get the widest range of nutrients.
  • Choose legumes and whole grains, such as brown rice and quinoa. If you do not have a gluten sensitivity whole-wheat flour, oats, and barley may be ok. If you do, stick with brown rice, quinoa, and potato as your starch sources. If you are diabetic or pre-diabetic or have insulin resistance, then most of your carbohydrates should come from vegetables.
  • Limit simple sugars, such as candy, cake, cookies, or ice cream.

Fat provides extra energy. To get enough of the right kinds of fat:

  • Get 30% of your daily calories from fat.
  • Get 10% or more of your daily calories from monounsaturated fats.
    Examples: nuts, seeds, avocado, fish, and canola and olive oils
  • Get less than 10% of your daily calories from polyunsaturated fats.
    Examples: fish, walnuts, flaxseed, and corn, sunflower, soybean, and safflower oil
  • Get less than 7% of your daily calories from saturated fats.
    Examples: fatty meat, poultry with skin, butter, whole-milk dairy foods, and coconut and palm oils.

Vitamins and minerals regulate your body's processes. People who are HIV-positive need extra vitamins and minerals to help repair and heal damaged cells. Eat foods high in these vitamins and minerals, which can help boost your immune system:

  • Vitamin A and beta-carotene: dark green, yellow, orange, or red vegetables and fruit; liver; whole eggs; milk
  • B vitamins: meat, fish, chicken, grains, nuts, white beans, avocados, broccoli, and green leafy vegetables
  • Vitamin C: citrus fruits
  • Vitamin E: green leafy vegetables, peanuts, and vegetable oils
  • Selenium: whole grains, nuts, poultry, fish, eggs, and peanut butter
  • Zinc: meat, poultry, fish, beans, peanuts, and milk and other dairy products

Because it is difficult to get enough of all the nutrients you need from foods, your health care provider may recommend a multivitamin/mineral tablet (without extra iron). Check the label to make sure it provides 100% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). Discuss with your doctor what you're taking -- more is not always better. If you don't eat at least three servings of high-calcium (green leafy veggies or dairy) foods each day, you might need to add a calcium supplement to your diet. This is becoming controversial however and more research is being done on this topic.

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