Sunday, September 9, 2012

College and Nutrition



Hi everyone! Sorry I've been M.I.A. for a while, but I've been pretty busy...moving in to college! I'm at Johnson and Wales University in Providence and I'm having lots of fun. Unfortunately, though, I have no kitchen here. I know. I'm going through major cooking withdrawal. But so is everyone else here, since we're all culinary majors, so at least I'm surrounded by people who don't mind watching Food Network marathons and reading cookbooks!

So, since I'm stranded here without a kitchen, my plan for blogging is to share some of the interesting stuff I learn in my Introduction to Nutrition class, and to let you know what healthy convenience foods I can get my hands on in my dorm.

With only two days of nutrition class under my belt, I feel like I've already learned a lot! I find this all really interesting, but it may be boring to you if you're not a nutrition freak like me. So, please excuse my little excited nutrition lessons.

Did you know?...
There are 6 essential nutrients that must be provided in your diet:
-Lipids (fat)
-Protein
-Carbohydrates
-Vitamins
-Minerals
-Water

The nutrients that provide energy (calories) are fats, carbohydrates, and protein. The rest don't provide your body with caloric energy, yet they're still neccessary for your body to function properly.

Since fats, carbs, and protein provide calories, they each have a specific number of calories per gram. fats have 9 calories per gram, while carbohydrates and protein each have 4 calories per gram. So, if you eat something that is high in fat, chances are it's also high in calories, since you're adding 9 calories to the total for every gram of fat in the food. However, a food that is mostly protein, like fish, will be lower in calories, since there's only 4 calories per gram of protein. Here are some examples:
 
This apple has no grams of fat or protein, so all of its calories come from carbohydrates. If you do the math, the calorie count comes pretty close: 22g carbs x 4 calories = 84 calories.
This means that the calorie composition of an apple is 100% carbohydrates and 0% fats or protein. Now, everyone is going to think that apples are bad because they're nothing but carbohydrates--there's 16 grams of sugar in that apple! But, apples are still healthy because they are made of complex carbohydrates and natural sugars. These carbohydrates break down slowly in your body, providing you with a constant supply of energy, rather than a quick energy boost followed by a crash (which white sugar and flour will do). The sugars found in apples are not added sugars and are able to be broken down more easily than processed and added sugars, so they don't get stored in your body as easily or turned into fat as readily.
 
                         Tilapia:                                    


 
Here, you can see that 100g of tilapia has 26 grams of protein, but only 128 calories and 3 grams of fat. Again, do the math: 26g protein x 4 calories = 104 calories, 3g fat x 9 calories = 27 calories. 104 + 27 = 131 calories, pretty close to the listed 128. The calorie composition of tilapia is about 20% fat (healthy, mostly unsaturated fat) and 80% protein, making it a good source of lean protein.


                                                                       olive oil:                       
                                                                        (source)                                     
 
Now, on to fat. You can see that olive oil is high in fat and has no protein or carbohydrates, making its composition 100% fat (although it's still good for you! I'll get more into that when we go through the lipid unit, since I'm not an expert yet). One tablespoon has 14 grams of fat, 14g x 9 calories = 126, about even with the listed 120 calories.
 
If you were to add up all the calories from fat, protein, and carbohydrates you eat in one day, they should add up to about 45-65% carbohydrates, 10-35% protein, and 20-35% fat for an adult.
 
Well, there are the very basics of nutrition! I always find it interesting to think of food in terms of what it can do for your body, not just how it tastes (although that's important too). Let me know what you think and if there's anything in particular you want me to talk about, once I learn it of course!

                                   


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