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Healthy eating: the power of the protein-carb combo

10:02 AM, Sep 13, 2011   |    comments
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Med City - For both meals and snacks - anytime you eat, really - it's important to combine protein and carbohydrates. Why? The combination allows your body to do a better job of controlling blood sugar levels, explained Renee Cooper, RD, LD, Dietitian, UH Case Medical Center.

In practical terms, what does it look like when you combine protein and carbohydrates?

Cooper suggests these healthy breakfast, lunch, and snack combos:

- tuna fish on whole wheat crackers combines protein with whole grain carbohydrates
- a medium apple and low-fat string (mozzarella) cheese combines fruit and natural sugar with protein and dairy
- an egg and whole wheat toast combines protein and whole grain carbohydrates
- cherry tomatoes and low-fat mozzarella cheese with some balsamic vinegar or low-fat vinaigrette combines vegetables with protein and dairy and some healthy fat (in oil)

The American Dietetic Association suggests adding any vegetables of any type to sandwiches to make them more nutritious.

Just as important as eating the right foods is avoiding some common but unhealthy ingredients.

While "healthy fats should be incorporated" into your daily diet, Cooper said she cautions her patients to avoid saturated fats. On food labels, the words to watch out for are "partially hydrogenated" anything, and saturated fats of any kind.

"You should also try to avoid any products with sugar in the first 5 ingredients," she said, including "anything that ends in '-ose.'"

And ingredients aren't the only things to note on nutrition labels. The American Dietetic Association reminds consumers to pay attention to serving sizes when shopping.

New guidelines introduced in 2010 that detail healthy eating options and make portion-size recommendations can be found on the website of the American Dietetic Association.

The American Heart Association also offers straightforward information about food and nutrition.

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