A month to change your heart: Day 10

Food is confusing.  High protein, low carb, gluten free, eggs are bad, well… maybe they’re not so bad. How can you know what is right? The more you read, the more confusing it gets.

Think you are making the right choice when you make your sandwich on wheat bread? 

News flash!  “Wheat” bread does NOT mean your bread is whole grain. If wheat flour is the first ingredient, you are eating white bread.  White bread is made from wheat flour. 

A dark-color bread, such as rye or pumpernickel, does not mean the bread is whole grain. The bread owes its dark color to caramel coloring. The first three ingredients in rye bread are unbleached wheat flour (refined), water and rye flour (refined). Rye and pumpernickel bread aren't much different than white bread.

In order to ensure you are choosing a whole grain bread, you want the word “whole” to be part of the first ingredient. WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR listed as the first ingredient is an example of a whole grain bread.

Multi-grain sounds amazing.  But it could have half a teaspoon of whole grains and a large quantity of white flour.  So the same rule applies here.  The first ingredient should be whole wheat flour or whole oat flour.

Carbohydrates should comprise about 50% of our total calorie intake.  The majority of those calories should be spent on foods including fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains.

How we spend our carbohydrate calories is critically important if we are attempting to lower cholesterol, triglycerides or blood sugar. Whole grain carbohydrate foods are generally high in fiber, low in fat and high in satiety value, meaning they make you feel full due to their higher fiber content. Carbohydrate foods that are high in sugar, such as cakes, cookies, ice cream, and chocolate are high in simple carbohydrates which will raise blood sugar and triglycerides, and they contain saturated fats which are not heart healthy. 

Heart- healthy carbohydrate rules to live by:

  • Eat a minimum of 3 cups of vegetables and 2 pieces of fruit every day
  • Choose whole grains such as brown or wild rice, barley, quinoa or oats
  • Choose 100% whole grain breads and wraps
  • Beans and lentils are a great choice for increasing fiber
  • Most of the food you eat should come from plant sources.
  • Fresh fruit is your dessert of choice.

White-flour foods such as bagels, white breads, soft and hard pretzels etc. should be replaced. Try these substitutions:

Choose 100% whole-wheat pasta over spaghetti
Choose Bran Flakes over Special K cereal
Choose 100% whole-wheat roll over white roll

You should eat very little sugar, especially if your triglycerides are high or if you have diabetes.  The American Heart Association suggests that the maximum amount of sugar you should eat each day is 9 teaspoons a day for men and 6 teaspoons a day for women. Here are some surprising sources of sugar:

1 Tablespoon of Ketchup = 1 teaspoon of sugar
8 ounces of apple juice = 6.5 teaspoons of sugar
8 ounces Yoplait strawberry yogurt = 6.5 teaspoons of sugar

Labels list sugar in grams, not teaspoons.  To translate, remember: 4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon of sugar

Sugar goes by many names, including high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, honey, dextrose, maltose and evaporated cane juice.  Be especially careful of fruit drinks and other sugar-containing beverages such as soda.

Brown sugar, raw sugar, honey and agave are all metabolized in our bodies just like table sugar, so don’t think they’re any healthier.

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