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Food & Drink

A balanced diet

Pairing protein, carbs to regulate blood sugars

Sausage and quinoa stuffed zucchini is a balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates and fat.  Proteins help with satiety and carbohydrates help increase blood sugars.
Sausage and quinoa stuffed zucchini is a balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates and fat. Proteins help with satiety and carbohydrates help increase blood sugars.

In 2010, the USDA introduced MyPlate as the new guideline for proper nutrition. Since then, it has been the education tool dietitians use to teach clients about eating a healthy diet. A balanced diet contains protein, carbohydrate and fat. Each of these macronutrients provides us with energy along with a host of other nutrients.

Protein is made up of amino acids, the building blocks of life. Protein helps the body repair and produce new cells, keeps us full aiding in weight control and has a moderate effect on blood sugar. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy thus causing the most dramatic effect on blood sugar as the food is broken down into glucose. Whole-grain carbohydrates provide more fiber than the refined versions, and it’s the fiber that keeps you full longer by slowing the digestion of food. Fats have the least effect on blood sugar. Their role in the diet involves nutrient transportation and providing energy. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are required by the body for normal function.

Because each of these macronutrients’ effect on blood sugar varies, it important to have balance in the food choices you make at meals and snacks. Near-normal blood sugar levels help you feel better and may reduce or prevent complications from diabetes. Aim to always pair a protein and complex carbohydrate together at meal and snack times. Proteins help with satiety and carbohydrates help increase blood sugars. For example, a good snack would be whole-grain crackers (carb) and hummus (protein) or apple slices (carb) and peanut butter (protein).

Your Hy-Vee dietitian pick of the month helps with hitting two birds with one stone. Quinoa is an ancient grain, and a unique one at that; it is the only grain that is also a complete protein. To be a complete protein, a food must contain all nine essential amino acids. One-quarter cup of dry quinoa contains about 31 grams of carbohydrate and 7 grams of protein. For comparison purposes, a 1-ounce portion of meat has 7 grams protein. 

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