It is very handy to know something about the most common constituents of foodstuffs, so that you can use this knowledge to your advantage whilst choosing and cooking food. The more you know about the constituents of food the better prepared you will be to select the best method of preparing that food. In this piece we will talk about some constituents of food.
Carbohydrates are a concentrated form of energy as is fat. However, the two substances differ in several ways, not least in that fat supplies energy in a very concentrated kind whereas carbohydrates provide energy in a more economical way. Over indulging in either fats or carbohydrates will result in becoming overweight quite quickly.
Therefore, this is the region that dieters must concentrate on, although 'experts' do not agree which is the most detrimental. Traditional diets recommend cutting back on fats, whereas some more contemporary diets recommend practically eliminating carbohydrates from one's diet.
The fact is that the body and most of the food that we put into it is made up of chemical elements, the most important of which are nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Protein is the only thing that we eat that contains nitrogen, which goes a long way to explain why protein is essential to us.
Protein is also the most difficult substance to find in the vegetarian diet. It is not impossible by any means, but the choices are severely limited because most people get their protein from meat, fish, dairy and eggs.
The other three elements: carbon, hydrogen and oxygen are constituents of carbohydrates. In fact, the very word 'carbohydrate' suggests the names of those three elements. 'Carbo' - carbon and 'hydrate' - hydrogen and oxygen, as in water. Carbohydrates are most extant in starches and sugars.
Starch is one of the most omnipresent kinds of carbohydrate. It is to be found exclusively in vegetables and pulses et cetera. While starch is boiled, it expands and bursts its cell walls causing water to thicken yet when it is cooked with dry heat, it melts and turns into dextrine, which is a stage before it turns into sugar.
Sugar is another vital constituent of carbohydrates and is also discovered usually in vegetables and fruit, although there is also some in milk in the form or lactose. Corn produces glucose. Young vegetables contain sugar, but as they become older it becomes starch.
Sugar melts with the application of heat, but if it is already in liquid form, it will give off water and start to caramelize. The distinctive colour or caramel is brown, yet if it is over cooked, it becomes dark brown and bitter. Sugar in fruit and vegetables will leach out into boiling water and so will be lost, unless that water is retrieved and used elsewhere.
Cellulose is a form of carbohydrate closely related to starch. It is to be found in the structure of plants and vegetables and although it is largely indigestible, it cannot be ignored in the human diet. Cellulose surrounds the goodness we are looking for in vegetables, so by cooking this food we are attempting to break down the cellulose to release the goodness.
Young vegetables have thinner cellulose than older ones, which is why some vegetables have to be cooked quickly and fiercely whilst others have to be cooked slowly but gently.
We often wonder what we should eat for optimum health and even the government has recently flip flopped its food pyramid which you can see at MyPyramid.gov.
Here's an overview of the 2005 dietary guidelines from the government.
First off, according to the new government guidelines a healthy diet is one that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk products and will include lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, and nuts.
The diet will also be low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt, and added sugars.
The main theme the government is proposing now is to eat a diet rich in grains and to make half of the grains you eat whole grains. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel -- the bran, germ, and endosperm, some examples would be:
* whole-wheat flour
* bulgur (cracked wheat)
* whole cornmeal
* brown rice
Next you should "vary your veggies" and in general buy fresh vegetables in season, stock up on frozen vegetables and buy vegetables that are easy to prepare.
For the best nutritional value, choose vegetables with more potassium such as sweet potatoes and spinach and limit sauces which can add fats, sodium and additional calories.
Prepare more of your foods from fresh ingredients to lower sodium. Most sodium comes from packaged and processed foods.
One suggestion for a healthy diet is to try using a salad as the main dish for lunch and go light on the salad dressing.
Focus on fruits. To help you keep focus, have a bowl of fruit always available on the table, counter, or in the refrigerator. Keep cut fruit in the refrigerator and buy fresh fruits in season whenever possible. Buy frozen, dried, and canned fruits as well so you will always have some kind of fruit on hand.
Choose whole fruits or cut fruits over juices whenever possible for the fiber benefits. Choose fruits high in potassium such as bananas, apricots, and cantaloupe. Put cut fruit on your breakfast cereal. At lunch, take a tangerine, banana, or some grapes. For dinner, add crushed pineapple or mandarin oranges in a tossed salad.
Get calcium rich foods and include low fat or fat free milk as a beverage at meals. Have fat-free yogurt as a snack. Use low-fat cheeses on salads and casseroles.
For those who cannot consume milk products due to lactose intolerance choose lactose free alternatives to get your calcium such as cheese, yogurt, and lactose-free milk.
Go lean with protein. The suggestions for your protein intake are to use the leanest cuts of meats such as top sirloin and pork loin and whenever choosing ground beef go with extra lean that is identified as at least 90% lean.
Buy skinless chicken parts as the fat is in the skin. Choose lean turkey and all kinds of fish.
To keep your meat intake lean and as free of fat as possible, broil, grill, roast, or boil your meat choices instead of frying and drain off any fat that appears during cooking.
Choose dry beans such as kidney beans and use them as the main part of a meal often. Make use of nuts for snacks and use them to sometimes replace meat or poultry.
We all love to go on a vacation and when we are on a healthy eating plan, we wonder how we are going to be able to stick to it while we are away from our homes. This is not a legitimate reason to scrap your healthy eating habits as there are ways that you can keep your eating under control and still enjoy yourself and stay on track while you are on vacation. I do not think that anyone wants to return home to discover that they have put on 3 or 4 extra pounds of weight. Here are a few ideas that will help you to eat healthy while at the same time not feel like you are being rationed.
Do not waste calories on things such as salty potato chips at the airports or a donut at the local coffee shop when you are traveling. Pack healthy snacks and take them with you or purchase them when you arrive and that way when you get hungry or a food craving, you will have something healthy to tide you over until the next meal. By eating healthy snacks, you will leave yourself the option of having something special for dinner or dessert.
It is a fact of life that when you are traveling, you are going to be eating in restaurants and this is part of the experience and the fun. The problem is that most restaurants serve enormous servings that are packed with fat and calories that you would not normally get if you were cooking at home. Instead of limiting yourself to garden salads, share your meal with another member of your vacationing party. You may still end up eating food that is not that healthy for you, but at least you will not be eating the entire serving yourself.
Make sure that you go easy on the alcohol as consuming too many drinks will greatly increase your daily calorie intake. A drink like a classic margarita will contain several hundred calories. One of your best options is to try to limit yourself to a cocktail every other day while you are vacationing. If you simply and positively have to have a drink each and every day, limit your consumption to one and switch from a cocktail to wine or a light beer. You should still drink plenty of water just like when you are home to keep your body hydrated and to curb food cravings.
It is also a good idea to split desserts just like we discussed splitting meals earlier. That way, you can still have a piece of the pie and eat it to and not over indulge or get the feeling that you are being deprived of a special treat or reward.
Try to avoid fast food restaurants if you can. This is a very difficult task as they are everywhere that you are when you are traveling. If you are in a hurry or have limited options, they can be very convenient and tempting to use. You should try to plan ahead if possible. If you are traveling cross- country, pack fruit and sandwiches in your cooler. If you are flying, you can always find a store that sells fruit , yogurt or packaged salads. By making smart choices on ordinary meals, you will be able to splurge a little with dinner or dessert.
Please remember that just because you are going on a vacation, you do not need to throw your healthy eating habits to the side of the road. By eating healthy most of the time, you will not feel guilty when you reward yourself at dinner.
I hope that you enjoyed this article and if you would like some great information to help you live a long and healthy life, please visit my eating healthy web site where you will find some great free tips to help you live a long and healthy life.