As a follow-up to Tuesday's article, we thought we would feature a more in-depth look at what kinds of foods to use in order to replace foods that are loaded with empty calories. Today we'll be exploring the idea of natural foods.
To improve health, people should not be encouraged to simply eat a diet high in carbohydrate or fat, but they should rather be encouraged to consume healthful, unprocessed foods that are rich in nutrients, fiber, and phytochemicals. These food should be low low in refined fats, oils (especially hydrogenated), sugars, and starches. Examples of these kinds of foods include fruit, vegetables, beans, and whole grains. Foods high in saturated fat or salt must be limited to reduce cardiovascular diseases. Check out MyPlate's advice. Notice anything? It's all the same as the healthful advice listed above, so, when in doubt, follow MyPlate.
Examples of Healthful Diet Adjustments
- If olive oil replaces butter, then LDL (bad cholesterol) will drop. However, if olive oil calories displace beans or oatmeal from the diet, then LDL would increase. So whether the addition of olive oil to the diet raises or lowers LDL depends on what it is replacing. Use unsaturated fats in place of saturated or trans fats, but eat all fat in moderation.
- If sugar is added to the diet and olive oil is subtracted from the diet, then there would be little change in LDL. However, HDL (good cholesterol) would be lower. Since sugar has almost as low a satiety value as olive oil, we would not expect any meaningful change in body weight.
- If angel food cake displaces cheesecake, then LDL would fall. HDL would also drop but not nearly as much as the drop in LDL. If a fruit salad displaced either cake, then LDL would fall further. Because fruit is more satiating on fewer calories than both cakes, calorie intake and body weight would also drop. This would result in an even greater drop in LDL but also a higher HDL. This example makes it clear that when a high carbohydrate food replaces a high-fat food, the metabolic changes are far more favorable when the high carbohydrate food is a whole, minimally processed food like fruit.
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.