South Beach Diet Eating and Cooking Primers

Main South Beach diet eating principles: food should be low fat — unsaturated fats preferred, should contain complex carbs and should have a low GI.

The South Beach Diet works efficently as a nutritional tool for a healthy way of life. The foods allowed are amongst the most beneficial and good nutrient providing ones. South Beach diet eating principles are based on the latest scientific nutrition studies and combine the advantages of recognized diets in a well-balanced manner so as to achieve the best of food.

Healthy Foods

The general idea is to replace old not-so-healthy food habits with healthier ones and try to eat more foods with better nutritive qualities and always aim for lower Glycemic Index ones.

Fruits and vegetables: to make them more appealing, cut them up and place them in plain view.

Dairy and milk products: choose the low-fat versions and make sure you get enough — besides well-known beneficent effects on bone structure, calcium enhances fat metabolism.

Meat, Poultry, fish, eggs, nuts: are essential protein providers. Choose low fat — swap fat meat with lean, prefer poultry — chicken/turkey breast. Fish, eggs and nuts are essential, the last two are to be consumed in moderation.

Bread, Cereal, Rice, and Pasta: choose whole wheat, whole-grain versions.

Healthy sweets and fat: to be used in moderation. Healthy sweets examples: dried fruit, frozen fudge pops, frozen yogurt bars and sorbet. Healthy fats: vegetable ones, olive oil especially.

Beware of trans-fatty acids. They are produced in the hydrogenation process of vegetable oils. Trans-fatty acids increase the risk of CAD (coronary artery disease) at least as much as saturated fat, as they increase LDL cholesterol level (bad cholesterol) and decrease HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), whereas saturated fat rises both.

They are to be found in baked goods, chips, fried fast food etc. Tub margarine is lower in trans-fatty acids.

Snacks — If you enjoy cookies for a snack try replacing them with whole wheat crackers, graham crackers or ginger cookies. Fresh fruit, carrots, celery, air-popped popcorn are high in fiber and complex carbs, whereas turkey/chicken breast, low-fat cheese, hummus, peanut butter, soy nuts, low-fat yogurt are protein-providers and can make up a satisfying snack.

Salad dressings — low fats are prefered, such as balsamic vinegar or berries vinaigrette or dressings containing Dijon mustard.

Foods with special qualities

Olive oil — has a important role in the diet, being an important source of fat. Olive oil is mostly monounsaturated fat. It has a favorable effect on HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Fish — contains Omega-3 fatty acids. Recently it has been shown that Omega-3 fatty acids have a lowering effect on triglycerides and possible anti-inflammatory effect.

Nuts — contain protein, carbohydrate, fat, fiber, vitamin E, folic acid, potassium, magnesium. They contain a high proportion of fat, mostly unsaturated. They do not contain cholesterol. To be used in moderation.

Eggs — yolks do contain cholesterol but they also contain nutrients that help lower the risk of heart disease: protein, riboflavin, folate, vitamins B12 and D. Eaten in moderation, eggs are healthy.

Spice — curry, cumin, cinnamon, allspice and vanilla will make your meals zesty and flavored and help salt reduction.

Water — it is essential that the water intake is sufficient.

Remember: Foods high in animal fat are high in cholesterol (except for eggs and liver that are high in cholesterol although not high in fat), even low fat animal products do contain some cholesterol. Plant foods do not contain cholesterol.

Foods Processing

Digestion begins in the moment we start preparing food; the way food is processed will have a great impact on digestion. Raw foods contain fiber and nutrients in an unaltered form putting the stomach at work in order to break food into nutrients (thus the GI is lower) while processed food might be considered predigested, thus food is very quickly turned into essential substances and has high GI. The less a food is processed, the healthier it is. The more food is preprocessed, the more fattening it will be.

The healthiest ways to cook seem to be steaming and stir-frying. Everyone should have a steamer, a wok or a skillet.

Did you know that calories from refined grains prefer to settle at the waistline? This is due to the fact that abdominal fat cells are probably more sensitive to insulin's effects than other fat cells in the body, as when eating white bread sugars from carbs enter your bloodstream resulting in insulin raised levels.