By: Mailee Lee
Health Class, Fall 2017, 8th Hour
Health Class, Fall 2017, 8th Hour
Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products. Though often maligned in trendy diets, carbohydrates — one of the basic food groups — are important to a healthy life. Carbohydrates are macro-nutrients, meaning they are one of the three main ways the body obtains energy, or calories. According to the Mayo Clinic, 45 to 65 percent of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates. That's equal to about 225 to 325 grams of carbs if you eat 2,000 calories a day.
Carbohydrates provide your body with energy that is required to carry bodily functions and physical activity. Carbohydrates provide fuel for the central nervous system and energy for working muscles. They also prevent protein from being used as an energy source and enable fat metabolism. Carbohydrates are important for brain function, they are an influence on "mood, memory, as well as a quick energy source." The simplest are sugars, like glucose, fructose, sucrose and lactose. Complex carbohydrates, like starch, are made up of lots of sugar molecules joined together. The 'identity tags' (antigens) on the surface of all cells are made from carbohydrates joined to proteins. These molecules are essential for cells to recognize each other and to keep the different parts of your body working together.
In addition to amount, the kind of carbohydrates you consume can affect your health. Eating carbohydrates with a high hypoglycemic index – a measure of how quickly the food raises your blood sugar level – can lead to poor insulin control if you are diabetic. It may also result in poor appetite control, as these foods, such as sugar, white bread, mashed potatoes and white rice, are quickly digested and may not allow you to feel full for long. In addition, carbohydrate foods that supply you with sugars but few or no other nutrients can cause you to gain weight or experience nutritional deficiencies.
Protein is considered a macro-nutrient, which means that your body needs it in large amounts every day to function properly. When you eat protein, your body breaks it down into amino acids that are used for several purposes. Protein can provide your body with energy when necessary. It is commonly found in animal products, though it is also present in other sources, such as nuts and legume. Your body uses dietary protein to repair tissue, build muscle, form immune and blood cells, synthesize enzymes and manufacture hormones.
Proteins are made up of smaller units called amino acids, and, while you can make some amino acids inside your cells, others – the essential amino acids – must be provided by your diet. Your immune system relies heavily on proteins. When your body is exposed to potentially harmful substances, such as bacteria or a virus, your immune system sends out proteins called antibodies. These antibodies seek out and attack the virus or bacterium in an attempt to neutralize it and prevent it from multiplying and causing illness. There is protein in every single cell in your body – from your hair to your nails to your muscles and organs. These proteins are known as structural proteins; they quite literally provide the structure for your body. Without them, you could not walk, run or even stand. In fact, the most abundant protein in your body is collagen, which is present in skin, ligaments, tendons and bones.
Proteins also play a vital role in nutrient transport. They carry sodium and potassium into and out of cells in order to maintain the proper electrolyte balance. Proteins also carry vitamins, such as vitamin A, from your organs to your cells. A specific protein in your red blood cells, hemoglobin, is responsible for carrying oxygen from your lungs to your cells. Hemoglobin also takes carbon dioxide from your cells to your lungs, so that it can be expelled from the body.
Eating too little protein or limiting yourself to foods that lack one or more of the essential amino acids leads to an eventual protein deficiency. Insufficient protein intake inhibits your body’s ability to make the proteins you need for good health and can lead to muscle wasting, a compromised immune system, lack of energy, liver damage and even death. Protein keeps your immune system strong and allows your body to move and bend. Foods rich in protein include meat, poultry, fish, nuts, eggs, milk and milk products. Women should aim to consume 46 grams of protein daily, while men should consume 56 grams per day.
Fat is an essential part of your diet. It provides energy, absorbs certain nutrients and maintains your core body temperature. Fat maintains skin and hair, cushions vital organs, provides insulation, and is necessary for the production and absorption of certain vitamins and hormones. You need to consume fat every day to support these functions, but some types of fat are better for you than others. Good fats protect your heart and keep your body healthy, while bad fats increase your risk of disease and damage your heart.
While carbohydrates are the main source of fuel in your body, your system turns to fat as a backup energy source when carbohydrates are not available. Fat is a concentrated source of energy. One gram of fat has 9 calories, which is more than double the amount of calories from carbohydrates and protein. According to Mayo Clinic, because fat is high in calories, you need to limit your diet to 20 to 30 percent calories from fat. Based on an 1,8000 calories diet, this recommendation amounts to 40 to 71 grams of fat.
Fat cells, stored in adipose tissue, insulate your body and help sustain a normal core body temperature. Adipose tissue is not always visible, but if you are overweight, you may be able to see it under your skin. You might notice an abundance of adipose tissue in certain areas, causing lumpy patches around your thighs and stomach. Other stored fats surround vital organs and keep them protected from sudden movements or outside impacts.
These heart-healthy fats stabilize cholesterol levels and lower your overall risk of cardiovascular disease when you consume them in place of bad fats. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated (good) fats come from vegetable oils, nuts, avocados and cold-water fish, such as salmon and tuna. Bad fats, or saturated and trans fats, raise low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Elevated low-density lipoprotein hardens arteries and raises blood pressure. Over time, you may be more at risk of heart attack and stroke. You need increased levels of high-density lipoprotein to rid your body of excess low-density lipoprotein. Trans fats are especially harmful because they lower your high-density lipoprotein. Saturated and trans fats are naturally occurring in meat, seafood and dairy, but processed junk foods also contain these damaging fats.
Vitamins help to regulate chemical reactions in the body. Your body needs vitamins to grow and develop. Your body is one powerful machine, capable of doing all sorts of things by itself. But when it comes to vitamins, it can use some help. That's where food comes in. Your body is able to get the vitamins it needs from the foods you eat because different foods contain different vitamins. The key is to eat different foods to get an assortment of vitamins. When it comes to vitamins, each one has a special role to play. For example, vitamin A in carrots helps you see at night, vitamins B in whole grains help your body make energy from food, vitamins C in oranges help your body heal if you get a cut, and vitamins D in milk help your bones, all these vitamins has a role to play in your body.
When you eat foods that contain fat-soluble vitamins, the vitamins are stored in the fat tissues in your body and in your liver. They wait around in your body fat until your body needs them. Fat-soluble vitamins are happy to stay stored in your body for a while — some stay for a few days, some for up to 6 months! Then, when it's time for them to be used, special carriers in your body take them to where they're needed. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are all fat-soluble vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins are different. When you eat foods that have water-soluble vitamins, the vitamins don't get stored as much in your body. Instead, they travel through your bloodstream. Whatever your body doesn't use comes out when you urinate (pee).
So these kinds of vitamins need to be replaced often because they don't stick around! This crowd of vitamins includes vitamin C and the big group of B vitamins — B-1 (thiamine), B-2 (riboflavin), niacin, B-6 (pyrimidine), folic acid, B-12 (calamine), biotin, and pantothenic acid. Certain vitamins — such as B and C — are water-soluble. If you take too much of them, your body simply flushes out the extra. Other vitamins — including A, D, E, and K — are fat-soluble. They aren’t good to consume in high doses because your body holds onto the excess. Certain vitamins — such as B and C — are water-soluble. If you take too much of them, your body simply flushes out the extra. Other vitamins — including A, D, E, and K — are fat-soluble. They aren’t good to consume in high doses because your body holds onto the excess. The recommended daily value for each vitamin differs, but it is important to consume all of the vitamins each day to keep your body healthy.
Minerals are components of foods that are involved in many body functions. For example, calcium and magnesium are important for bone structure, and iron is needed for our red blood cells to transport oxygen. Like vitamins, minerals are not a source of energy and are best obtained through a varied diet rather than supplements. Minerals are essential nutrients that the body needs to survive and carry out daily functions and processes. You receive minerals by eating plants that absorb them from the earth and by eating meat from animals, which graze on plants. Minerals keep you healthy and have key roles in several body functions. You require these important nutrients from your daily diet.
You require oxygen to produce energy that is necessary for every bodily function and process. Red blood cells -- or erythrocytes -- carry oxygen to each of your infinite cells, where it is used to generate energy. Red blood cells contain a heme or iron component that binds to oxygen so that it can be transported. Without the iron molecules, oxygen could not be attached to the blood cells and the body would not be able to produce the energy necessary for life. Iron is an essential mineral, and failing to get enough from your diet can lead to a condition called anemia, which causes weakness and fatigue. This mineral is primarily found in the blood, and it is also stored in your liver, spleen, bone marrow and muscles.
Some minerals such as calcium are needed in large quantities, while others such as zinc are only needed in trace amounts. Zinc is an essential mineral that is important for keeping your immune system strong and helps your body fight infections, heal wounds and repair cells. According to BBC Health, the mineral selenium is also needed in small amounts for immune health. A deficiency of selenium has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and even some types of cancers. The amount of minerals we need is actually very small – much smaller than the amounts of carbohydrates, protein, and fats required for a healthy diet. Most adults need about 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day, but only about 10 to 15 milligrams of iron and zinc per day.
Water is more than a thirst quencher. It is a major nutritional element that helps regulate body temperature, lubricate your joints and protect your major organs and tissues. Water does more than just quench your thirst and regulate your body's temperature; it also keeps the tissues in your body moist. You know how it feels when your eyes, nose, or mouth gets dry? Keeping your body hydrated helps it retain optimum levels of moisture in these sensitive areas, as well as in the blood, bones, and the brain.
Water negatively affects the brain, but we already know that too much water dilutes your blood. But when your kidneys are unable to get rid of the excess water, the cells in your body swell and take in more and more water to relieve the burden on the kidneys. In addition, water helps protect the spinal cord, and it acts as a lubricant and cushion for your joints. Water also helps transport important substances, like oxygen, throughout your body. Because your body loses water through breathing, sweating, and digestion, it's important to re-hydrate by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water.
The amount of water you need depends on a variety of factors, including the climate you live in, how physically active you are, and whether you're experiencing an illness or have any other health problems. Aim to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day. A great plus for water in comparison to the other fluids is that it hydrates our body without extra calories.
10 Unhealthiest Protein Bars
Oh Yeah! One (Chocolate birthday cake)
This is a popular bar, and it has decent macros with 22 grams of protein, 25 grams of carbs, and 1 gram of sugar. The thing that brings this bar all the way down to the worst bar of them all are the artificial flavors and dyes. This bar contains corn starch, palm kernel oil, sucralose, soy lecithin, yellow 6 lake, red 40, blue 1 lake, red 3, and red 40 lake. Not only does this bar contain harmful ingredients like corn starch, palm kernel oil, sucralose, and soy, but it also contains a whole host of artificial dyes. These dyes are so bad that many countries actually ban them! Each bars are $2.08 each.
Clif Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch Bar
Although Clif bars use 60 percent organic ingredients, the first ingredient on the list is organic brown rice syrup. Unfortunately, that means that the syrup is what makes up most of the bar. Although brown rice is a healthy addition to your diet, brown rice syrup is broken down by your small intestine the same way 100-percent glucose is processed, which raises blood sugar levels. The fourth ingredient on the list happens to be organic cane syrup. If a bar has 20 grams of sugar, the sugar should come from whole ingredients and not processed syrups. Each bars are $1.69 each.
Perfect Bar Carob Chip
Although the calorie count starts to creep up, this high protein bar is a perfect meal replacement if you are running from the gym. The high fat content comes from the organic peanut butter, which happens to be the first ingredient. This chocolate bar even has dried organic whole food powders, which consists of kale, flax seed, tomato, celery, and kelp! All that in your chocolate bar! If you are looking for something lower in calories, sugar, and fat, the cranberry crunch flavor has only 200 calories, 10 grams fat, 13 grams of sugar, and still contains nine grams of protein. Each bars are $1.27 each.
Odwalla Peanut Butter Chocolate Bar
While this bar is non-GMO and made with “whole cereal grains,” the first four ingredients are isolated soy protein, inverted cane syrup, brown rice syrup, and peanut butter chips. The peanut butter chips are not made with natural peanuts but instead processed from a mouthful of different ingredients – cane syrup, fractionated palm kernel oil, partially defeated peanut flour, isolated soy protein, soy lecithin, and natural flavor. Peanuts are delicious enough on their own and the unnecessary processing with added ingredients throws you into a sea of health confusion. Each bars are $2.09 each.
Luna Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar
The first ingredient in this bar is soy protein isolate, which is different than whole soy, fermented soy, and other soy products. The safety of soy protein isolate has been questioned due to worry of metal contamination, pesticide risk, and concentrated flavorless. Following soy protein isolate are organic cane syrup, peanuts, and organic dried cane syrup. In your chance to find a healthy bar, opt for whole ingredients in the beginning of the list (and hopefully all the way until the end of the list). Each bars are $1.99 each.
Thinkthin Creamy Peanut Butter Protein Bar
Balance Bars are low in fiber and contain questionable ingredients like carrageenan and caramel color. The lengthy ingredients list is devoid of whole foods and reads like a chemistry exam. For example, the first seven ingredients are soy protein nuggets, glucose syrup, protein blend, sugar, fractionated palm kernel and palm oil, fructose and invert sugar. There are four types of sugar in the first few ingredients alone! Balance Bars contain carrageenan, a thickener made from seaweed, which has been linked to gut inflammation in animal and human cell studies. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration believes it is safe, people with inflammatory bowel disorders -- or anyone concerned about its effect -- may want to avoid it. The bars also contain caramel color, a potential carcinogen, according to a 2015 study from Johns Hopkins University. The report cautioned that consuming large quantities of caramel color (popular in soda) could increase the risk of cancer. Each bars are $1.75 each.
Balance Bar Lemon Meringue Crunch
With 20 grams of protein and zero grams of sugar, Think-thin looks appealing; but think again. There are hardly any whole foods on the ingredients list (except a small amount of peanuts and sea salt), and there’s only one lonely gram of fiber. Think-thin also has 11 grams of sugar alcohol. Sugar alcohols taste sweet, have fewer calories than sugar and don’t raise blood sugar as much as sugar. (Despite the name, they don’t actually contain any alcohol or sugar). But they can cause GI distress like abdominal pain, gas and diarrhea when consumed in excess (above 20 grams per day), according to a 2014 study in Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety. If you suffer from stomach problems, check food labels for sugar alcohols -- the solution may be to cut back or eliminate them entirely. Each bars are $2.08 each.
Green Superfood Energy Bars Original
Don’t be fooled by the buzzwords “green,” “super-food” and “energy.” The Super-food bar has 25 grams of sugar, which make up nearly half of the total calories. And while it does contain an “Amazing Grass Green Super-food” mix of powders, teas, roots and produce that’s been processed enough to fit in the bar, you can get everything you need from wholesome fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes and grains at your other meals and snacks. In case you’re tempted by the four grams of fiber, it still isn’t enough to justify eating this sugary bar. You can easily get that in half a cup of raspberries, half a cup of oatmeal, an ounce of almonds, an orange, half an ounce of flax-seed or one baked sweet potato. A cup of cooked black beans has 15 grams. Just eat a healthier snack and have some raspberries for dessert that night. Each bars are $2.99 each.
Detour Lean Muscle
Even with 32 grams of protein, there's nothing lean about this bar that packs 7 grams of saturated fat and 27 grams of sugar alcohols (sugars engineered to be used as additives, which are not only hard to digest but may cause bloating, diarrhea, and flatulence. Not cute!) With an ingredient list about a mile long full of unpronounceable additives, the only thing this bar can guarantee is to cause a huge fight with your stomach! Each bars are $2.66 each.
Clif Bar White Chocolate Macadamia Nut
Yes, the Clif Bar is all organic, and that is a good thing, but that doesn’t make this a good bar. This bar still has a lot of sugar and a lot of carbs in every serving. In fact, it has 21 grams of sugar and 41 grams of carbs per bar! And only 9 grams of protein. That is crazy! Not to mention that it contains a lot of soy ingredients, such as soy lecithin, soy flour, and soybean oil, to name a few. Each bars are $1.44 each.
10 Healthiest Protein Bar
Health Warrior Lemon Goldenberry Protein Bar
Plant-powered Health Warrior bars contain a blend of protein-rich chia seeds, oats, quinoa and peas. Chia seeds are loaded with protein, fiber, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Dry chia seeds turn into a gel when soaked in liquid, so they take up some serious room in your stomach, helping you feel full. (They also help prevent constipation, giving you more energy and a flatter belly). This Health Warrior bar is also a good source of calcium, which can help at-risk populations like women and adults over age 51 meet their needs. Each bars are $1.49 each.
Rxbar Chocolate Sea Salt
If you’re looking for a clean ingredient list, look no further. With the exception of “natural chocolate flavor,” all six ingredients are real foods: dates, egg whites, almonds, cashews, cacao and sea salt. You read that right -- there’s no added sugar. On the mineral front, the RXBAR bar is a good source of magnesium, which helps maintain muscle function, and it’s also a good source of potassium, which can lower blood pressure by countering the adverse effects of sodium. Egg whites are a great source of protein and “less processed than some of the protein powders that are typically added [to bars],” says Alissa Ramsey, M.S., RD. Since egg whites have fewer calories than egg yolks, they provide protein while keeping the total calories low. Each bars are $1.97 each.
Juno Bar Apple Crisp
Juno Bars are mostly made of whole foods like dates, almond butter and apples -- the first three ingredients -- plus quinoa, chia, rice protein and hemp protein. It’s also a good source of iron, which is important for women of childbearing age, who are often deficient. However, people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may want to skip the Juno Bar because it contains inulin, a type of fiber that may cause gas and bloating in sensitive individuals. Inulin is a “prebiotic” (it feeds your gut bacteria and promotes digestive health), but can be difficult to digest. Each bars are $2.19 each.
Youbar Customized Nutrition Bar
You can skip the supermarket altogether and make your own personal line of bars. That’s right, on YouBar.com, you choose from their list of whole-food ingredients (most of which are organic, non-GMO and grass-fed), and they’ll send you a box of 13 professionally packaged bars (you can even name them). The price ranges from $2.89 to $3.19 per bar, depending on the size of bar you order. As you throw ingredients into your personalized bar, you can watch the nutrition facts panel on the side of the website change. To keep this bar a “best pick,” remember to aim for a minimum of seven grams of protein, at least three grams of fiber and no more than 13 grams of sugar when tinkering with ingredients.
Zing Bars Double Nut Brownie
The Zing Bar is lower on the list because none of the sugar comes from natural sources (tapioca syrup and agave syrup contribute to the nine grams). However, with eight grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein for less than 200 calories, it’s a healthy choice for people on the go. The Zing Bar is also high in iron, providing 20 percent of the daily recommended value. You’ll absorb more of the iron from the Zing Bar if you pair it with a good source of vitamin C like an orange or handful of strawberries. People with IBS should proceed with caution, since Zing Bars (like Juno Bars) contain prebiotic fiber to boost the fiber content. Each bars are $2.07 each.
KIND Madagascar Vanilla Almond
KIND Bars are relatively easy to find (think airports, drugstores, markets) and have a good overall nutrient profile. Some bars are higher in sugar than others, so always check the nutrition facts label first; the Madagascar Vanilla is one of their best, with only four grams of sugar and seven grams of protein for 210 calories. On the downside, the ingredients in this KIND bar aren’t as simple as many other bars on this list. It contains three types of added sugar, Inulin (which can cause GI problems for people with IBS) and soy lecithin, an additive. Each bars are $1.23 each.
EVO HEMP Cashew Cacao
With a simple ingredient list and a protein boost from vegan hemp seeds and protein powder, Evo Hemp stands out among the crowd. It’s low in sugar, and the first three ingredients are all whole foods: dates, cashews and apricots. Hemp, like chia, contains omega-3 fatty acids, which “can reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol and boost brain function,” according to Alissa Ramsey, M.S., RD. If you’re anxious about getting high from hemp seeds, don’t worry. Industrial hemp made for food is not the same as marijuana. You can try to smoke the bars, but you’ll just end up burning them. Each bars are $2.16 each.
Lara-Bar Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
By looking at the sugar content, you may think that one of the ingredients is pure sugar. This bar only has four ingredients (all of which you can pronounce): dates, peanuts, chocolate chips, and sea salt. Most of the sugar-from this bar is from the dates, which contain 4.5 grams of sugar each. In a study by the Nutrition Journal, researchers found that dates happen to be a low-glycemic index food, meaning that they did not raise the test subject’s blood sugar levels after they ate them. Lara-bars come in many different flavors so if you are trying to watch your sugar intake (even the natural sugars), you can try the blueberry muffin Lara-bar, which only contains 17 grams of sugar and 190 calories. Keeping the calories between 150 and 250 for a snack and consuming your sugar from natural sources is a good way to give into your sweet tooth without overindulging. Each bars are $1.39 each.
Probar Superfood Slam
With half the amount of sugar (17 grams), this Pro-bar Satisfies your hunger with healthy fats (omega 3 and 6) and 70-percent raw ingredients. Although this bar may appear to be high in fat, they're the healthy fats required to keep you feeling full until your next meal. Just remember, this is a total meal replacement, not a snack! Each bars are $2.21 each.
Strong & KIND Honey Mustard
KIND bars are a little bit of a mixed bag. They generally contain mostly whole food ingredients (points!), but some include non-organic soy lecithin or are a little high in sugar. This one from the new Strong & KIND line is pretty great, with 10g of protein from nuts and pea protein isolate and only 5g of sugar. It’s a great pick for vegetarians (but is technically not vegan because of the honey) and also contains healthy spices like turmeric and paprika. Each bars are $1.24 each.