Food and Health – Learning How to Choose the Right Foods Within Each Nutrient Category

Learning with Lisa Tan

– Fun (and common) fact! Home-cooked food tends to be lower in calories and healthier than store-bought food.

– The focus on nutrients rather than food has confused many.
Many studies show that simply removing or boosting nutrients, or turning food into supplements doesn’t really work. Food is a lot more complicated than that, and is better viewed as a system.

– Focusing on nutrients rather than food can leave us confused and potentially consuming a diet that is dangerous to our health.
In recent years, a lot of attention has been focused on the fact that many of us are eating too many carbohydrates. There are popular diet trends that encourage us to drastically reduce the carbohydrates in our diet, even to the point of limiting our intake of fresh fruit. At the same time, some of these low-carb diets seem to suggest that protein and fats can be eaten freely. But a diet that’s very high in animal protein and contains no whole grain or not enough fruits and vegetables could leave us with serious problems in the long run.

In fact, the category carbohydrates include a wide spectrum of foods. Some of which are really important for our health. And some of which can compromise it. For example, whole grains like brown rice and rolled oats are useful carbohydrates that provide our bodies with a usable source of energy 😄🔆

A whole grain like brown rice or quinoa will result in a slower release of glucose and a more muted insulin response. On the other hand, a food that’s high in refined carbohydrates, like white bread, will lead to a more rapid release of glucose into the blood. And in response to this, the body releases a large amount of insulin, the hormone in our bodies that lowers blood sugar. The spike of glucose and insulin leads to less stable blood sugar levels.

As such, eating foods that are refined, especially highly processed carbohydrates, can result in an earlier return of hunger and a tendency to overeat.

TLDR: there are good carbs (brown rice/ rolled oats) and bad carbs (like white bread). Shouldn’t lump all carbs as bad ☺️

Ultimately, for people who are struggling to manage their weight or their blood sugar levels, eating foods that have a low glycemic index is especially important, but choosing low glycemic foods is generally a good idea for all of us. So when we talk about dietary carbohydrates, we’re actually talking about a very broad family of foods. Some that can be harmful to our long term health, and some that can support it.

Learning how to choose the right foods within each nutrient category is one of the keys to long term success.

Source: Coursera – Stanford Introduction to Food and Health

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