Calories and health

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Calories and health
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  • Post published:October 31, 2019
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The human body needs energy to survive. This energy, measured in calories, is required for normal cell function, sustains the continuous working of the heart and lungs and supports the organs to carry out their basic processes of daily life. Human energy is derived from food and drinks.Adequate intake of food and drinks daily is required to deliver the calories that sustains a healthy life. Daily calorie consumption that is either too low or too high will eventually lead to health problems.

The number of calories in foods tells how much potential energy they contain. Though the calorie-value of food is important, the substance or food type from which the calories are derived is equally important.

Daily requirementAn average man needs 2,700 kcal per day and the average woman needs 2,200 kcal per day.

Daily calorie requirement varies for different people. This is mainly due to different metabolic rates, meaning energy is expended at different rates, as some people have more active lifestyles than others.

The recommended intake of calories per day depends on several factors, including:

  • overall general health
  • physical activity demands
  • sex
  • weight
  • height
  • body shape

Empty caloriesEmpty calories only provide energy but very little nutritional value. The parts of food that provide empty calories contain virtually no dietary fiber, amino acids, antioxidants, dietary minerals, or vitamins.

Empty calories come mainly from solid fats and added sugars.

  • Solid fats: Although these exist naturally in many foods, they are often added during industrial food processing, as well as during the preparation of certain foods. Butter is an example of such solid fat with empty calories, except it’s the fortified variant.
  • Added sugars: These are sweeteners that are added to foods and beverages during industrial processing. They are filled with calories. The most common types of added sugars are sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup.

Added sugars and solid fats are said to make foods and drinks more enjoyable. However, they also add many calories and are major contributors to obesity.

Alcohol can also contribute empty calories to the diet. One normal serving of beer can add 153 kcal to a person’s intake for the day.

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