Protein, carbohydrates and fat are essential nutrients that your body needs to function normally. The amount you eat from each nutrient category is important, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Follow the recommendations of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans to prevent chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
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Let the Guidelines Guide You
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend that you consume between 45 and 65 percent of your calories from carbohydrates, 10 to 35 percent from protein and between 20 and 35 percent of calories from fat. This applies to adults aged 19 and older. You should also limit your sodium intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams daily and spend at least 150 minutes per week performing moderate-intensity activity.
Good Carbs and Bad Carbs
The majority of your diet should come form carbohydrates, which are considered either simple or complex. Simple carbohydrates, which include table sugar, are converted quickly into glucose, while complex carbohydrates, such as fiber, slow digestion and hdlp to regulate blood sugar levels. The bulk of your carbohydrates should come from complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Limit refined, or processed, grains and added sugars, which contain little nutritional value.
Plant Protein Proposal
Consume between 10 and 35 percent of your calories as protein, from a combination of animal- and plant-based proteins. Ounce for ounce, animal proteins can be more protein-dense, but they can also be higher in saturated fat. Choose lean proteins such as seafood and fish, poultry and lean cuts of beef or lamb. Plant proteins such as legumes, soy, nuts and seeds can offer protein and heart-healthy unsaturated fat. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, however, the guidelines are "too lenient on red meat, despite substantial evidence that replacing red meat with poultry, beans, or nuts, could help prevent heart disease, and that lowering red meat can lower the risk of diabetes."
The Skinny on Fat
Limit your intake of saturated fat intake and eat more unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, nuts and seeds. Saturated fats are a solid at room temperature, such as butter or lard. You'll aslo find them in meat and dairy products. The American Heart Association recommends that no more than 7 percent of your total calories come from saturated fat, which is linked to elevated cholesterol and an increased risk of heart disease. Trans fats can also raise cholesterol levels and should be limited to no more than 1 percent of total caloric intake . Avoid foods that show partially hydrogenated oil -- a sign that the food contains trans fats -- on the ingredient list.