Watch Your Weight - part 3

Fat-fighting facts

Usually we tend to group fats together in a distinct type and this is really reasonable thing to do if you are normally keeping a tab on your fat consumption. However, the fact is that there are several types of fats and each of them has distinct effects on our health. Basically, over 90 per cent of the edible fat comprises molecules enclosing three fatty acids - saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. It may be mentioned here that while most vegetable fats comprise chiefly unsaturated fatty acids, animal fats enclose a great proportion of saturated fatty acids.

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The three different types of fats mentioned above have different functions in our diet and certainly have distinct consequences on our health in a number of manners.

Saturated fats
Saturated fats are mainly found in animals meats, such as veal, pork and beef. They also come from dairy products, such as cheese, butter and eggs. On the other hand, saturated fats are also present in vegetable sources like coconut oil and palm oil. When an individual obtains over five per cent of his or her entire daily calories from saturated fats, he or she faces the risk of rising LDL levels, also known as 'bad' cholesterol, as well as developing different ailments. In addition, ingestion of excessive amounts of saturated fats is considered to enhance the requirement for essential fatty acids that may eventually result in the build up of surplus body fat and cause a number of serious health complexities.
Monounsaturated fatty acids
Large amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids are present in olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil and peanut oil. Researchers have identified oils that are high in monounsaturates with a view to bring down the intensity of LDL cholesterol without disturbing the levels of HDL, also known as 'good' cholesterol.
Polyunsaturated fats
Foods such as grains, nuts, seeds and soy foods like tofu contain polyunsaturated fats. These fats are also present in a number of vegetables. Polyunsaturated fats are required for sufficient storage of fat as well as the wellbeing of the cells. It is present in excess quantities in a regular diet. In a number of scientific researches conducted on animals, scientists have associated polyunsaturated oils with the development of cancerous tumors. They have also found that polyunsaturated fats are involved in the initial stage of damage in the coronary artery ailments.

It may be mentioned here that these three types of fatty acids are found in different combination in a variety of oils.

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Carbohydrates responsible for fat build up

Carbohydrates are essential for our health as they provide us with the indispensable blood sugar-glucose - a vital fuel utilized in the generation of energy in the brain as well as each and every cell of the body. In addition, glucose is also useful in sustaining the body temperature, breathing, digestion, movement, tissue repair and the functions of the immune system. Therefore, glucose is undoubtedly one of the most imperative amalgams routing all the way through one's body.

Basically, there are three kinds of carbohydrates and they are categorized as per the complications of the composition of their molecules - monosaccharides (simplest), disaccharides and polysaccharides (the most complicated). Polysaccharides comprise several sugar elements attached in concert characteristically to come into being as complex carbohydrates or starches. Starches may be allowed to remain as organic or may be processed to prepare specific foodstuffs. Organic compound carbohydrates are available in combination with plenty of vitamins, fiber, minerals and several other nutrients. It is important to mention here that, it is essential for every one of us to consume more foodstuffs, such as brown rice and whole-wheat bread with a view to obtain sufficient amount of these raw complex carbohydrates in our daily diets.

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On the other hand, foodstuffs such as white rice as well as white bread are not only less substantial, but also low in nutrient content as they contain processed carbohydrates. In fact, several vitamins and minerals are lost while processing these foods like milling of wheat to produce white flour. Generally speaking, unprocessed complex carbohydrates are absorbed by the body very slowly, but effectively. This, in turn, provides a stable supply of energy with no biochemical roller-coaster end product of concentrated sugars. Hence, consuming foods in combination with complex carbs helps in steadying the sugar levels in the body.

It may be noted here that processed white sugar-sucrose is placed at the top of the list of 'empty calories'. Along with these refined white sugar-sucrose, the list includes brown sugar, dextrose, corn syrup, cane syrup and maltose. Scientists have found that consuming excessive amounts of processed sugar is associated with a number of health problems, such as increased levels of cholesterol, other blood fats, a dearth of chromium, a hint of mineral linked with heart ailments and diabetes as well as the origin of breast cancer.

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In fact, very little digestion is needed for the simple sugar molecules present in sucrose. Hence, they enter the blood stream easily and soon raise the intensity of blood sugar beyond the regular levels. When this happens, the insulin secretion system in the body is set in motion to get rid of the surplus glucose from the blood. This, in turn, results in a drop in the intensity of blood sugar. It is important to note that even natural sugar substitutes like honey, maple syrup and fruit juice do not provide any answer to this problem. Frankly speaking, consuming any sweetener, natural or synthetic, in excess is harmful for our well being.

Fiber diets

Another major advantage of consuming complex carbohydrates is their fiber content. In fact, there are several varieties of dietary fiber and all of them are obtained from the plant cell walls. Fiber is useful for us for it performs a crucial function by maintaining a smooth digestive system as also ensuring that the toxins responsible for development of cancer and other substances that cause different diseases do not get in touch with the digestive tract for long periods or they are not soaked up by the body. In addition, consuming food that has rich fiber content is known to help avoid heart ailments, over-weight and cancer of the colon. Moreover, it has also been established that consuming high-fiber diets helps in getting rid of the surplus body fat as well as bring down the blood pressure by around 10 per cent.

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Dietary fiber
Dietary fiber includes all plant substances that offer resistance to digestion. Although many people describe dietary fiber as roughage, the fact is that fiber essentially aids in generating an effortless and quick passage of the ingested foods all the way through the digestive tract.
Insoluble fiber
Insoluble fiber comprise cellulose present in foods, such as wheat bran, hemicelluloses present in whole grains and vegetables as well as lignin, which is the adhesive present in the cell walls of plants. As is evident from its name, these fibers are not soluble in water, but they soak up water. Absorbing water makes these fibers to bloat and add volume which makes it effortless for the intestines to transit the waste materials to be expelled from the body as feces.
Soluble fiber
This variety of fibers comprises pectin present in citrus fruits, apples, legumes and some varieties of vegetables. Soluble fibers are also found in mucilage, present in oats and gums - something similar to gelatins in plants. Soluble fibers perform a specific role that is very different from the raw and insoluble fibers.

It may be mentioned here that every type of fiber is attached to digestible carbohydrates and, hence, they are able to inhibit the glucose absorption into the blood stream. Especially, pectin and gums hold back the absorption of sugar in the intestines. Since these fibers have the ability to keep the intensity of the blood sugar at the normal rate, they are also able to diminish the fat development in the body.

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