The Best Proteins, Fats and Carbohydrates for Optimal Nutrition

Food pyramid

Optimal nutrition can best describe nutrition that is most beneficial for good health and the prevention of disease. Proteins, fats and carbohydrates that are high in Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s, high fiber whole grains, vegetables and fruits, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and oils and low-fat dairy products can specifically aid in the prevention of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. In addition, a diet rich in these food groups can increase performance and recovery, promote better fat utilization, reduce blood sugar and increase energy.

Fish, beans, nuts and seeds are the best proteins for optimal nutrition. Salmon, halibut, albacore tuna, sardines, mackerel, herring, lake trout, snapper, cod, scallops and shrimp contain high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids which are extremely effective at lowering cholesterol and blood sugar and prevention of heart disease and cancer. Walnuts, flaxseeds, kidney beans, soybeans, tofu and pumpkin seeds are also rich in Omega 3’s. In addition, an Omega 3 or fish oil supplement will assist in achieving adequate Omega 3 requirements. The recommended DHA and EPA intake is 500 to 1000 mg daily.

Nuts and seeds should be eaten in moderation in a low calorie diet as they are higher in fat and therefore calories; however, their fats are unsaturated and are considered “good” fats as they can lower blood cholesterol, ease inflammation, stabilize heart rhythms and reduce insulin levels. (Consistently high levels of insulin in the blood may eventually lead to diabetes if not addressed). These “good” fats can also be found in peanut, olive, flaxseed and canola oils, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pumpkin and sesame seeds and avocadoes.

Low-fat cheese, yogurt and milk are good sources of dairy proteins. Eggs are good sources of protein (6g per whole egg), The amount of cholesterol in a single large egg has decreased by 14 percent according to the new United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrition data. Consuming an egg a day fits easily within the dietary guidance, which recommends limiting cholesterol consumption to 300 mg per day.

Black beans, lima beans, baked beans and lentils are great vegetable sources of protein and are also rich in fiber. Fiber helps lower cholesterol, helps control blood sugar level and aids in weight loss. Whole wheat pasta, oat bran, barley, bran flakes, oatmeal, popcorn, brown rice, artichokes, peas, broccoli, turnips, and brussel sprouts are complex carbohydrates that are high in fiber.
Raspberries, strawberries and blackberries, pears and apples (consumed with skins) and bananas are simple carbohydrates that are rich in fiber. When consumed alone, simple carbohydrates can spike blood sugar and insulin levels in the body, reducing fat utilization. Combining them with protein and unsaturated fat will eliminate this problem.

Natalie Gibbins is a San Diego Personal Trainer, who’s passion for weight training and fitness began in 1989, while living in England. She was providing Personal Training in Point Loma gym for 10 years, before opening The Private Gym in Ocean Beach, where she helps people of all ages accomplish their fitness and weight loss goals.

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