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Women's Health

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Healthy Eating for Weight Loss

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Calories

Calories are a measurement, like an inch or a tablespoon. They note how much energy is released when your body breaks down food. The more calories a food has, the more energy it can provide to the body.

When you eat more calories than you need, your body stores the extra calories as fat. Even low-carb and fat-free foods can have a lot of calories that can be stored as fat.

Protein

Proteins help repair and maintain your body, including muscle. You can get protein in all types of food. Good sources include fish, meat, poultry, eggs, cheese, nuts, beans, and other legumes.

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.

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