December 6, 2011

Healthy Fast Food : Do They Really Exist?

fast foodWe don’t have time to cook good foods, let alone going to church or our respective places of worship. Our jet set lifestyle is alone to be blamed. In this situation, we are slowly but surely inclining to such foods those are easy to cook and take less time to prepare. Even they are available in ready to eat state. Yes, I am talking about fast foods. Most of the ingredients of fast foods contain high calorie value. They also contain much amount of saturated oil, which are unhealthy. But, is there any healthy fast food? Does this concept really exist? Let us find it out.

Well, they do exist. Gourmet companies and fast food joints have bent to the increasing pressure of health conscious people. They have started preparing fast foods that are prepared from healthy ingredients. They are using oils and meats which contain less amount of trans fat.

Whenever you are going to a fast food court, look for the salad dressings containing less oil or grilled chicken sandwiches. Order a sandwich but ask them to cut the mayonnaise or the extra cheese. You will find detailed nutritional information of all the ingredients used in a preparation over the counter or printed on the packaging. You can choose between healthy and ‘not so healthy’ foods. And if you are thirsty, choose a diet cola or water. It is another good habit to choose the smallest burger size.

Eat your fast food on the go. Drive-in restaurants are preferred. Studies have shown that people who sit and order their preferences in a fast food joint, land up into eating more. Watch the size of the portion of each food. Normally the portion size of any preparation in a fast food joint is 2-3 times more than they are in a restaurant. If the portion size is larger, ask them to pack the food and take it away. You can eat half of the item and keep the other half for next day’s use. What’s more, you can have your food without all the condiments and while at home, you can add healthier food options. Salads are notorious in terms of calories. You will have a family size salad dressing but your appetite will remain almost same. And if the salads contain oils and meat, you are in a soup. Try to order foods which do not require salads as its taste enhancers.

Many companies are marketing sandwiches and burgers with chicken free nuggets, which are nothing but chicken flavored tofu. Soybean nuggets are another healthy alternative. There are some joints which exclusively prepare these ‘healthy fast foods’. Some Asian fast food preparations like egg roll and veg spring roll are highly nutritious and contain less calorie and saturated oil.

Taking some light snacks before going out will kill your appetite. It is an old trick but it works. As you will have less appetite, you will tend to avoid fast food.

Healthy fast food is not a joke. With some modification in your taste and mindset, you can always enjoy the comfort of a fast food minus the extra calories.

Fast Foods: A Bane for Healthy Living

fast foodsAs we are advancing and going to a jet paced society, we get little time to cook delicious foods at our places. That’s why, we are slowly but surely inclining to fast foods, which are easy to cook and take very little time to prepare. Fast foods are also called ‘convenient foods’. Fast foods are inexpensive too in comparison to the conventional foods. Therefore, it is gaining popularity day by day. You can get fast foods through easily accessible places – foods and snack stalls, food vending machines, drive-in restaurants and in all departmental stores in easy to prepare packaging. Since its initiation, the concept of having fast food was not using any kind of cutlery. They are sometimes called ‘finger foods’ also.

The concept of fast food was present since the ancient times. Chinese were taking noodles as convenient foods, Middle -East Asian countries had their own falafel and flatbread, Indians were having panipuris and parathas, European countries had pies and cakes. All these suggest that people were always had an inclination towards the foods that are easy to prepare and takes less cooking time.

Today’s fast food includes – fish and chips, burgers, noodles, sausages, pizzas and pastries. They are cheaper as they are made from meat containing high fat level, refined white flours and sugars. They are prepared with oils containing high level of saturated fatty acids (which gives the richer taste to otherwise low taste foods).

Fast foods are generally unhealthy to us. They are made from high fat meat and oils. There are responsible for increasing cholesterol level in our blood. This can cause heart attack, deep vein thrombosis and cerebral stroke. Cholesterol can deposit inside the blood vessel and narrows their lumen. This in turn gives rise to high blood pressure. Deposition of fats in our body can make us obese, which is a predisposing factor for many diseases like diabetes, anxiety, depression, hormonal problem and arthritis. In a recent survey, it was seen that more than 190 million US citizens are either overweight or frankly obese. Researchers have identified increase use of fast food is one of the primary causes of these rapid progress.

As there is little effort takes to make fast foods, people are excessively dependent upon these foods. In January 2003, BBC published news based on surveys of the US scientists that fast foods are becoming as addictive as heroin. This over eating is purely due to lack of willpower. The problem has so vivid that the Los Angeles City Council had to pass an ordinance in barring construction of new fast food joints in a 83 square kilometer are in a specific locality populated by 500,000 people from low socio economic condition. Eating fast food is not necessarily causing harm to us. But the real problem lies elsewhere. You cannot control yourself going on eating. And at the end, you land up into gaining weight. Think it in this way; fuel is important for your engine. But in any case if excess fuel gets entry your car’s engine, it will sure to work less.

Having fast food is good, but always within a limit.

Healthy Food: The Easiest Way to Live Longer

healthy foodEvery one of us cherishes a notion to live a long healthy life. But often we forget to have a diet that is really healthy to our body. Instead, in this jet paced society, we are slowly but surely inclining towards junk ‘convenient foods’. But these convenient foods are damaging every organ of our body, not to mention some of the ingredients have a direct deleterious effect. So what are the eating options we have? Which are those healthy foods that help our body to flourish and to combat against diseases? Let us discuss these factors.

Have you ever heard of food pyramid? This pyramid tells you which food is good for your health and to take as much as possible and from which foods you should refrain yourself. At the bottom of the pyramid is the orange zone. It is the zone of the grain foods. Cereals, breads, rice, pastas, crackers are included in this group. Your maximum daily calorie intake should come from this group only. It is better to take whole grain foods rather than milled and polished grains. Whole grain food retains the original nutrients which is lost during the milling process. Besides, having a whole grain cereal will make the bowel movement easier.

Next comes the green zone of vegetable group. You must eat fresh green leafy vegetables as much as possible. Vegetables are the main source of vitamins and minerals and give us 80% of the total requirement. It is better to eat a wider variety of vegetables rather than depending upon limited numbers. You must eat vegetables of different colors as they are rich in different vitamins. For example, yellow and green vegetables are rich in Vitamin A whereas, dark orange and dark green vegetables contain high amount of Vitamin C.

You must eat at least one of the seasonal fruits each day. Fruits are also rich and balanced source of vitamin and minerals. It is always better to take fresh fruit or natural fruit juice than juices containing preservatives.

Next comes the oil group. Oils are notorious to produce cholesterol in our body. Try to prepare foods with less oil. It is better to take oils having more Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid than Monounsaturated or saturated fatty acid. Sunflower oil, safflower oil, sesame oil are good examples of heart friendly oils. Avoid butter, ghee (clarified butter), cheese and whole milk. Foods containing oils are the main culprit for weight gain.

Always try to take white meat instead of beef or pork. This is true for poultry also. Sea fishes are good to your health are they are rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Although meat is the supreme source of class I protein (animal protein), they offer enough cholesterol to damage our health.

Maximum amount of your daily calorie requirement should come from the breakfast and dinner should be light. This formula will help you in losing weight or maintaining it if you don’t want to add some pounds.

Boiling, grilling or broiling are the better methods of cooking than fried or roasted food. Boiled food retains the nutritional value and it is good for your health also. Cut your portion of each meal. Avoid alcohol, tea, coffee and tobacco.

Taking healthy food is the easiest and cheapest way to live a longer vigorous life. A lot of diseases can be averted by eating a healthy diet. Millions of people throughout the world have gained by eating healthy foods. Now it’s your turn to become healthy.

Good carbohydrates and bad carbohydrates

There is a such a thing as good carbohydrates and bad. In the past they used to call bad carbohydrates simple sugars and good carbohydrates complex sugars. Today they have changed this to referring to good carbohydrates as those which release glucose slowly into the blood stream. They call these low glycemic carbohydrates. High glycemic carbohydrates cause blood glucose levels to spike almost immediately after you’ve consumed them. A high glycemic carbohydrate may be white bread or a sugary breakfast cereal. Having said this, though, just because a carbohydrate has a high glycemic value does not mean it is bad. Some varieties of carrot can have a high glycemic value, but for it to provide a great burst of glucose into your blood stream, you’d need to eat an awful lot of carrots. High glycemic carbohydrates can also become useful when you want a sudden burst of energy. I was actually just reading that consuming high glycemic food in the three hour period after training can facilitate muscle building. Low glycemic carbohydrates become useful when you want sustained energy throughout the day. The rate at which glucose is released into your blood stream can also be slowed if you combine a low glycemic carb with a high glycemic carb. Alternatively, if you combine a source of protein with a high glycemic carb, this can also slow the absorption of glucose into the blood stream.

As a general rule, a bad carbohydrate would be a heavily processed carbohydrate such as a frosted donut mentioned earlier. A good carbohydrate would be an apple or a slice of wholemeal or wholegrain bread.

All vegan diet, is it healthy?

Actually it is. There was a pretty significant study done that was widely published. Researchers from the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center looked at data from 10,104 adults who were eating different kinds of diets including vegetarian diets, low carbohydrate diets and high carbohydrate diets and their effects on BMI, energy intake and diet quality. The study concluded that those who were eating a vegetarian diet had low BMI’s and ended up eating less energy. (Kennedy et. al Popular Diets: Correlation to Health, Nutrition and Obesity. J. Am. Diet. Assoc. 2001 Apr. 101(4) 411-20). There is something to be said for it but it comes down to knowledge and balancing. You have to be cautious when starting a vegetarian diet and you need to make sure you are knowledgeable about it.

It’s harder to get the adequate amount of B vitamins on a vegetarian diet and you have to know which foods to eat to get the right amount of vitamins and minerals. So you know which vegetables to eat and how much to eat in order to get the amount of protein that you need.

What happens to food after we eat it?

When you eat food, the process of digestion breaks food down into it’s respective nutrients as we discussed before. Carbohydrates into monosaccharides (single units of sugars), protein into amino acids and fats into fatty acids. This process starts when you actually chew the food, the food then travels down into the stomach through the esophagus where it is liquified. When it reaches your small intestines, this is where the fun begins. Most of the digestion and absorption of the food occurs here in your small intestine. Digestive enzymes called lipase, amylase and protease act on fats, carbohydrates and protein to break them down into their nutrients for absorption. Once the food has been broken down into their simple units, they are then absorbed into the blood stream for further chemical changes to make other compounds that the body needs, or for use around the body. Water and small lipids (fats) cross the intestinal wall easily. Some nutrients such as water and fat soluble vitamins need a carrier to take them across the wall. Other nutrients such as proteins and glucose move across the wall and into the blood stream by themselves but use energy to do so.

Do we become hungry because our stomach is empty or is it because of something else?

That is a tricky question. There are people who have studied this and can boil it right down to all kinds of enzymes and mechanisms that kick into play, stimulating appetite or depressing appetite.

When I go out to exercise and I get back and sit down, I need to replenish my water intake. The next thing that I find is I find a combination of fruits to eat, primarily because they are made up of water, and sugar carbohydrates. But the digestive process is pretty rapid when it comes to breaking down sugars into glucose. I can consume a lot of fresh fruits and it doesn’t satisfy my hunger.,p> I will still have hunger pains because the digestion is completed so rapidly as opposed to protein, which takes longer. It almost seems like exercise can suppress appetite but I think you have to balance that whole idea with how much exercise you are doing and how many calories your body needs to replace and what kinds of food you are going to consume.

It is complex and is another whole area to think about as to why people are gaining weight, whether it is emotional or whether it is the amount of exercise they have done.

Everyone studying this issue, trying to help people lose weight, may have their own theories and their own recommendations. They all study it in a different way – some try to understand the psychology and some try to understand the nutritional aspects of it. If it was well understood, we probably wouldn’t be having the problems we are having today.

What is a well balanced diet and How Do I Get One ?

Following the food pyramid is a good place to start and maybe it’s a good place to end for some people. If you take all the food somebody eats at the end of the week and then add them all up and how much variety there was, you will find that there really wasn’t that much variety.

People generally have a dozen foods they like to eat and they will end up eating the same foods day after day for most of their life and that is where you run into problems. You get stuck in a rut and fail to incorporate a vast variety into your diet and fail to get the nutritional balance that you should be getting. If you know nothing about food but incorporate a lot of variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, cereals, dairy, protein sources, small amount of “good” fats, and legumes and nuts into your diet the chances of your missing out on the right nutrients essential for good health are lowered.

When it comes to fresh fruit and vegetables, some people like to use a diet out there called the Rainbow diet. It’s based on all the different colors of fruits and vegetables. So I will take purple grapes and onions and garlic and sprinkle some lettuce and if we have fresh strawberries I will add those to cantaloupe and really your imagination is your only limitation. Just basically add all your favorite fruits and vegetables and season it to taste. Mix it all up and you have an incorporation of all of that variety. You get all of the vitamins and the nutrients and the minerals that you need in just one meal instead of just ingesting one kind of food.

My point is the more variety you can get in your diet the greater the possibility that if you are lacking in something that you are going to get it. I am an advocate of getting variety in your diet. It all comes down to looking at your budget and having some knowledge of getting what you need and looking at the food labels.

With just a little bit of knowledge of how to read food labels and what you need you can make the right choices with the money that you have to work with.

Even the restaurants and the fast food chains are starting to offer more nutritious choices, likes salads. Subway is one that has really jumped on the bandwagon. You know the one with Jared standing there saying this deep fat fried sandwich contains 45 plus grams of fat and compare it to the subway sandwich. I saw an interview where they were talking with the producer of Sesame Street and they were talking about the Cookie Monster and how it was presented inadvertently to get kids to eat more junk food and more cookies. Now they have repositioned that whole program to where they are starting to teach kids more about nutrition. I am hoping that one of the things that is happening is that there is increased awareness about nutrition and the obesity epidemic. Some people are just succumbing to obesity and the things that come with it like cancer and heart disease and diabetes. It’s good to see some positive changes taking place.

What are fats and protein?

A fat is a waxy, oily substance and is essential for good health. Fat has double the amount of calories and so poses a problem to individuals who find it difficult to exercise.

If you break down a fat you break it down into something called a fatty acid and glycerol.

Proteins are made up of chains of amino acids and are necessary for your body to build enzymes, antibodies and haemoglobin. When you eat protein, your body breaks the protein down into amino acids and then tries to re-assemble them into other configurations to make other needed proteins for use around the body.

Carbohydrates, fats and protein can all be broken down into smaller units. Each one of those macronutrients can be sub-divided. In the case of proteins, proteins are made up of amino acids. Not all proteins have the eight essential amino acids that the body needs. If you are consuming protein and you miss out the essential ones for long periods of time, you are putting yourself at risk of becoming malnourished. In some cultures around the world where food isn’t so plentiful, children can become malnourished and develop diseases such as Kwashiorkor. The children have the distended tummies, however the rest of their bodies are fine, this unfortunately is caused by a protein deficiency.

Scientists can actually measure the quality of nutrients that people are getting. People will volunteer to be involved in a clinical feeding trial and they will hook these people up to all kinds of measuring devices to measure everything from body temperature to how much moisture they exhale. They weigh and eliminate brine in their feces and record everything they can about these patients. They will feed these people a controlled diet – controlling the amount of protein consumed. They can measure how much is excreted, how much weight a person gains and basically they can determine how much of that protein is utilized by the body. When they do that they can determine the quality of the protein and the amino acids that makes up the protein. They can determine how well the body absorbs protein and assign a number value to the protein as to how well it is absorbed. Some proteins are absorbed extremely well, an example would be egg albumin, which is a protein found in the white of an egg rather than the yolk. The egg white protein has an extremely high biological availability and all of the essential amino acids in the right balance. Gelatin though has many of the essential amino acids however does not have an amino acid called tryptophan and because it is lacking – it isn’t considered a complete form of protein. If it is combined with other sources of protein it is okay. The bottom line is if you are looking at carbohydrates, fat or protein, it is important to look at the composition of them. You can read the declarations of the food labels. Often snack foods will contain inefficient protein, or protein that does not contain all the essential amino acids. It is important to know that all carbohydrates, fat and proteins are made up of these building blocks and it is important to know to have a balance of all of these building blocks for good health.

What is a carbohydrate?

Carbohydrates are made up of carbon and water. Atoms of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen form carbohydrate compounds such as sugar and starch. There are five types of carbohydrate sugars, glucose, fructose, sucrose, maltose and lactose. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy and in fact your brain needs a constant supply of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose by the body and as you may know, is absorbed into the blood stream. It can also be stored in your muscles and liver as glycogen.

You need about 40 – 50 per cent of your diet to be made up of carbohydrates for good health.