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Healthy Eating for Weight Loss

(continued)

Fats

Your body needs some fat. But most Americans get too much of it, which makes high cholesterol and heart disease more likely.

There are several types of fats:

  • Saturated fats: found in cheese, meat, whole-fat dairy products, butter, and palm and coconut oils. You should limit these. Depending on whether you have high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, or other conditions, a dietitian or your doctor can let you know your limit.
  • Polyunsaturated fats: These include omega-3 fatty acids (found in soybean oil, canola oil, walnuts, flaxseed, and fish including trout, herring, and salmon) and omega-6 fatty acids (soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil).
  • Monounsaturated fats: These come from plant sources. They're found in nuts, vegetable oil, canola oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, and avocado.
  • Cholesterol: Another type of fat found in foods that come from animals.
  • Trans fat: Some trans fat is naturally in fatty meat and dairy products. Artificial trans fats have been widely used in packaged baked goods and microwave popcorn. They're bad for heart health, so avoid them as much as possible. Look on the nutrition facts label to see how much trans fat is in an item. Know that something that says "0 g trans fat" may actually have up to half a gram of trans fat in it. So also check the ingredients list: If it mentions "partially hydrogenated" oils, those are trans fats.

 

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates give your body fuel in the form of glucose, which is a type of sugar. Adults should get about 45% of their calories from carbohydrates. Most Americans eat too many carbohydrates, especially processed carbs, leading to obesity, prediabetes, and diabetes.

Some carbs are rich in nutrients. Those include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

Other carbs are sugary and starchy, and not high in nutrients. You should limit those, which include candy, pastries, cookies, chips, soft drinks, and fruit drinks.

Vitamins

Vitamins help with chemical reactions in the body. In general, vitamins must come from the diet; the body doesn't make them.

There are 13 essential vitamins. Your body can store vitamins A, D, E, and K, and it can be a problem if you get too much of them. Vitamin C and the B vitamins don't build up in your body, so you need to keep getting them regularly in your diet.

Minerals

Minerals, like vitamins, must come from the diet. Your body needs them, but it can't make them.

You need more of some minerals (such as calcium, potassium, and iron) than others. For instance, you need only small amounts of the minerals zinc, selenium, and copper.

What About Water?

Water has no calories or nutrients, but it keeps you hydrated. It also makes up 55%-65% of body weight.  You can drink water or get it from foods that naturally have water in them, like fruits and vegetables.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on August 03, 2012
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